Character strength and stress management in academic staff : A positive psychology perspective.

DARABI, Mitra. (2013). Character strength and stress management in academic staff : A positive psychology perspective. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This research programme aimed to explore why some academics cope with stress better than others and so preserve their well-being and mental health. A positive psychology perspective was adopted. Mixed methods were applied, with a quantitative study and two qualitative studies. Study 1 focused on the relationship between character strengths, stress, subjective well-being (SWB), and mental health (GHQ) in a sample of 216 academics. Hierarchical multiple regressions showed that psychological strengths of gratitude and hope agency were predictive of SWB and mental health. Stress had a negative relationship with character strengths, satisfaction with life, positive affect, and mental health and a positive relationship with negative affect. Tests of interactions between stress and character strengths with subjective well-being and mental health revealed that higher levels of optimism had a buffering effect on mental health (GHQ) when the levels of stress were higher. Sense of coherence as a work coping variable negatively predicted stress at work. Problem-focused coping negatively predicted stress while denial coping positively predicted stress. In a follow-up qualitative study of 31 academics, the following sources of stress were identified: the increased number of students, heavy workloads and administrative burdens, poor management, funding cuts, job insecurity, and threats from the government on the pension scheme. Support from colleagues and time management were identified as the most positive coping sources. Teaching and research were the most valuable elements of academic work and administration was less valued. A positive psychology intervention (the Three Good Things) was conducted in a sample of five academics. The aim was to evaluate the experience of participating in the intervention. The data from research diaries and a focus group discussion showed that colleagues, friends and family, presenting at a conference, and data collection and analysis were the most positive experiences among academics. Academics believed that the positive psychology intervention was useful in shifting their attentions from negative to positive thoughts. A non-parametric statistic was used to analyse the data from pre-assessment, post-assessment, and two week follow-up measures of stress, subjective well-being, mental health, and gratitude in Study 3. The Friedman test found no main effect on the intervention; however, satisfaction with life was the only variable that significantly changed over time in the intervention. The results of this research programme contribute to a limited body of knowledge on how psychological strengths, coping strategies and work coping variables may reduce stress and increase well-being and mental health. The research also provides recommendations for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2013.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:23
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2018 17:23
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20654

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