Understanding Workaholism: Data Synthesis, Theoretical Critique, and Future Design Strategies

  • Lynley H. W. McMillan
  • Michael P. O'Driscoll
  • Nigel V. Marsh
  • Elizabeth C. Brady


Workaholism involves a personal reluctance to disengage from work, which is evidenced by the tendency to work irrespective of external demands. While the term workaholism has been widely used by the public for over 30 years, scientists are only beginning to explore the behavior in depth. To date, most research has occurred on an ad hoc basis, emerging from a wide variety of paradigms without being explicitly linked to theory. The current article presents three methods for defining workaholism and a précis of relevant measures, then provides an integrated overview of research relating workaholism to individual well-being. Three models implicit in existing workaholism research (addiction, learning, and trait theory) are expounded and critiqued, and four new procedures for researching workaholism are suggested. Finally, an integrated, multidisciplinary approach is proposed as an essential element in encouraging rigorous debate and continued development of workaholism theory.

workaholism addiction work achievement striving obsessive compulsive 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynley H. W. McMillan
    • 1
  • Michael P. O'Driscoll
    • 2
  • Nigel V. Marsh
    • 2
  • Elizabeth C. Brady
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaikatoNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaikatoNew Zealand

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