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What is Workaholism? How Common is It?

By HERWriter
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If you work significantly more than 40 hours every week and find it hard to detach yourself from work after hours, you’ve probably been told by at least one person that you’re a “work addict” or “workaholic.”

Although this might be fairly common in today’s society, there is still plenty of research to be done. In fact, a new study just came out this month showing the prevalence of workaholism in Norway.

The authors defined workaholism as “being overly concerned about work, to be driven by strong and uncontrollable work motivation, and to spend so much energy and effort into work that it impairs private relationships, spare-time activities and/or health.”

Results showed that 8.3 percent of the employees were considered to be workaholics, and young adults and caretakers for children were more likely to be workaholics.

There are also several personality traits positively associated with workaholism: neuroticism, agreeableness and intellect/imagination.

Researchers used a nationally representative survey of 1,124 Norwegian employees. These employees were sent a questionnaire to complete via mail.

Researchers measured workaholism using the Bergen Work Addiction Scale (BWAS), and also used the Mini-International Personality Item Pool (Mini-IPIP ) to determine personality traits related to workaholism.

The BWAS looks at seven aspects of workaholism, which is similar to how addiction is determined:

1) Salience (preoccupation with work)

2) Mood modification (using work to escape or avoid dissatisfaction)

3) Conflict (work ends up conflicting with other aspects of life and one’s needs)

4) Withdrawal (dissatisfaction if work is prohibited)

5) Tolerance (Having to work more to keep feeling better)

6) Relapse (Returning to above behaviors even after a period of improvement)

7) Problems (Other areas of life are negatively affected due to work, such as health and relationships)

The items on the scale are each measured from (1) “never” to (5) “always.” Using this scale, it is determined that someone is a workaholic if they answer using a (4) “often” or (5) “always” on a minimum of four out of seven items.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.