The aim of this review is to define a conceptual border between workaholism and work addiction. Five online databases (ScienceDirect, MEDLINE, Academic Search Complete, Emerald Insight, and APA PsycArticles) were used to search for scientific papers. The search was limited to the papers published between 2007 and 2021. Seventy-nine papers published during the period from 2008 to 2021 were included in the systematic review. Most of the authors who attributed workaholism to the group of addictions described it as a state of being overly concerned about work, driven by an uncontrollable work motivation and investing much time and effort into work that leads to negative consequences. Seven symptoms (salience, tolerance, mood modification, conflict, withdrawal, relapse, and problems) were proposed as key aspects comprising the phenomenon. The authors who described workaholism as a behavioral pattern or a personal characteristic mainly defined it as a tendency to work excessively in a compulsive way and explained the phenomenon in terms of aspects of excessive and compulsive work. In this way, two separate phenomena of workaholism and work addiction emerged which had their own definitions and specific features.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Andreassen, C. S. (2014). Workaholism: An overview and current status of the research. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 3(1), 1–11.
Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., Hetland, J., & Pallesen, S. (2012). Development of a work addiction scale. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 53(3), 265–272.
Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., Gjertsen, S. R., Krossbakken, E., Kvam, S., & Pallesen, S. (2013). The relationships between behavioral addictions and the five-factor model of personality. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 2(2), 90–99.
Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., Hetland, J., Kravina, L., Jensen, F., & Pallesen, S. (2014a). The prevalence of workaholism: A survey study in a nationally representative sample of Norwegian employees. PloS One, 9(8), e102446.
Andreassen, S. C., Hetland, J., & Pallesen, S. (2014b). Psychometric assessment of workaholism measures. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29(1), 7–24.
Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., Sinha, R., Hetland, J., & Pallesen, S. (2016). The relationships between workaholism and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study. PloS One, 11(5), e0152978.
Atroszko, P. A., Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., & Pallesen, S. (2015). Study addiction – A new area of psychological study: Conceptualization, assessment, and preliminary empirical findings. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 4(2), 75–84.
Aziz, S., & Moyer, F. (2018). Workaholism and occupational health: A translational review. Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, 23(4), e12144.
Balducci, C., Avanzi, L., & Fraccaroli, F. (2018). The individual “costs” of workaholism: An analysis based on multisource and prospective data. Journal of Management, 44(7), 2961–2986.
Buelens, M., & Poelmans, S. A. Y. (2004). Enriching the Spence and Robbins’ typology of workaholism: Demographic, motivational and organizational correlates. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 17(5), 440–458.
Clark, M. A., Michel, J. S., Zhdanova, L., Pui, S. Y., & Baltes, B. B. (2016). All work and no play? A meta-analytic examination of the correlates and outcomes of workaholism. Journal of Management, 42(7), 1836–1873.
Clark, M. A., Smith, R. W., & Haynes, N. J. (2020). The multidimensional workaholism scale: Linking the conceptualization and measurement of workaholism. Journal of Applied Psychology, 105(11), 1281.
Gillet, N., Morin, A. J. S., Sandrin, E., & Houle, S. A. (2018). Investigating the combined effects of workaholism and work engagement: A substantive-methodological synergy of variable-centered and personcentered methodologies. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 109, 54–77.
Gorgievski, M. J., Moriano, J. A., & Bakker, A. B. (2014). Relating work engagement and workaholism to entrepreneurial performance. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29(2), 106–121.
Griffiths, M. D. (2011). Workaholism – A 21st-century addiction. Psychologist, 24(10), 740–744.
Griffiths, M. D. (2005). A ‘components’ model of addiction within a biopsychosocial framework. Journal of Substance Use, 10(4), 191–197.
Griffiths, M. D., & Karanika-Murray, M. (2012). Contextualising over-engagement in work: Towards a more global understanding of workaholism as an addiction. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 1(3), 87–95.
Griffiths, M. D., Demetrovics, Z., & Atroszko, P. A. (2018). Ten myths about work addiction. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 7(4), 845–857.
Horne, J. (1998). Understanding leisure time and leisure space in contemporary Japanese society. Leisure Studies, 17(1), 37–52.
Kubota, K., Shimazu, A., Kawakami, N., Takahashi, M., Nakata, A., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2011). Association between workaholism and sleeping problems among hospital nurses. Industrial Health, 48(6), 864–871.
Kubota, K., Shimazu, A., Kawakami, N., & Takahashi, M. (2014). Workaholism and sleep quality among Japanese employees: A prospective cohort study. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 21(1), 66–76.
Kun, B. (2018). Ten myths and twenty years: What we know and what we still do not know about work addiction: Commentary on: Ten myths about work addiction (Griffiths et al., 2018). Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 7(4), 863–866.
Liang, Y. W., & Chu, C. M. (2009). Personality traits and personal and organizational inducements: Antecedents of workaholism. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 37(5), 645–660.
Loscalzo, Y., & Giannini, M. (2017). Studyholism or Study Addiction? A comprehensive model for a possible new clinical condition. In A. M. Columbus (Ed.), Advances in Psychological Research (pp. 19–37). Nova Publisher.
Loscalzo, Y., & Giannini, M. (2018). The Bergen Study Addiction Scale: Psychometric properties of the Italian version. A pilot study. Psychiatria i Psychologia Kliniczna, 18(3), 271–275.
Machlowitz, M. (1980). Workaholics. Living with them, working with them. Addison-Wesley.
Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., & Altman, D. G. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement. Annals of Internal Medicine, 151(4), 264–269.
Ng, T. W., Sorensen, K. L., & Feldman, D. C. (2007). Dimensions, antecedents, and consequences of workaholism: A conceptual integration and extension. Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior, 28(1), 111–136.
Oates, W. E. (1968). On being a workaholic. Pastoral Psychology, 19(8), 16–20.
Porter, G. (1996). Organizational impact of workaholism: Suggestions for researching the negative outcomes of excessive work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1(1), 70–84.
Reiss, M. (2002). American Karoshi. New Internationalist, 343, 16–17.
Robinson, B. E. (1989). The work addiction risk test: Development of a tentative measure of workaholism. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 88(1), 199–210.
Salanova, M., López-González, A. A., Llorens, S., Del Líbano, M., Vicente-Herrero, M. T., & Tomás-Salvá, M. (2016). Your work may be killing you! Workaholism, sleep problems and cardiovascular risk. Work & Stress, 30(3), 228–242.
Schaufeli, W. B., Taris, T. W., & Bakker, A. B. (2008a). It takes two to tango: Workaholism is working excessively and working compulsively. In R. J. Burke & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), The Long Work Hours Culture. Causes, Consequences and Choices (pp. 203–226). Emerald.
Schaufeli, W. B., Taris, T. W., & Van Rhenen, W. (2008b). Workaholism, burnout and engagement: Three of a kind or three different kinds of employee well-being. Applied Psychology, 57(2), 173–203.
Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., Van der Heijden, F. M., & Prins, J. T. (2009a). Workaholism among medical residents: It is the combination of working excessively and compulsively that counts. International Journal of Stress Management, 16(4), 249–272.
Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., Van der Heijden, F. M., & Prins, J. T. (2009b). Workaholism, burnout and well-being among junior doctors: The mediating role of role conflict. Work and Stress, 23(2), 155–172.
Schaufeli, W. B., Shimazu, A., & Taris, T. W. (2009c). Being driven to work excessively hard: The evaluation of a two-factor measure of workaholism in the Netherlands and Japan. Cross-Cultural Research, 43(4), 320–348.
Shimazu, A., Schaufeli, W. B., Kubota, K., & Kawakami, N. (2012). Do workaholism and work engagement predict employee well-being and performance in opposite directions? Industrial Health, 50(4), 316–321.
Snir, R., & Harpaz, I. (2006). The workaholism phenomenon: A cross-national perspective. Career Development International, 11(5), 374–393.
Snir, R., & Zohar, D. (2008). Workaholism as discretionary time investment at work: An experience-sampling study. Applied Psychology, 57(1), 109–127.
Spence, J. T., & Robbins, A. S. (1992). Workaholism: Definition, measurement, and preliminary results. Journal of Personality Assessment, 58(1), 160–178.
Sussman, S. (2012). Workaholism: A review. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 6(1), 4120.
Ten Brummelhuis, L. L., Rothbard, N. P., & Uhrich, B. (2017). Beyond nine to five: Is working to excess bad for health? Academy of Management Discoveries, 3(3), 262–283.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no competing interests.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Morkevičiūtė, M., Endriulaitienė, A. Defining the Border Between Workaholism and Work Addiction: a Systematic Review. Int J Ment Health Addiction (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-022-00757-6
- Work addiction