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Work & Stress: An International

Journal of Work, Health &
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Job stress in managers,

professionals, and clerical workers
a b
Janet J. Turnage & Charles D. Spielberger
Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida,
Orlando, FL, 32816-0390, USA
Center for Research in Behavioral Medicine and Health
Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL,
33620-8200, USA

Version of record first published: 27 Sep 2007.

To cite this article: Janet J. Turnage & Charles D. Spielberger (1991): Job stress in managers,
professionals, and clerical workers, Work & Stress: An International Journal of Work, Health &
Organisations, 5:3, 165-176

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02678379108257015


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WORK & STRESS, 1991, VOL. 5, NO. 3, 165-176

Job stress in managers, professionals, and

clerical workers

Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816-0390,
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Center for Research in Behavioral Medicine and Health Psychology, University of

South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620-8200, USA

The intensity and frequency of occurrence of 30 job stressors as measured by the job stress survey
(JSS) were examincd i n white-collar employees of a large manufacturing firm, consisting of 68
managers, 171 professional (mostly engineers), and 69 clerical personnel. The highest levels of stress
intensity were attributed to ‘lack of opportunity for advancement’ and ‘poor or inadequate
supervision’. Individual stressors rated as occurring most often during the past six months were
‘frequent interruptions’, ‘meeting deadlines’, and ‘dealing with crisis situations’. Factor analyses of
the ratings of individual job stressors identified two job-stress factors, j o b pressure and lack of support,
which were differentially related to age, gender, occupational level, locus of control, and job tenure
and satisfaction. All three occupational groups attributed greater intensity to stressors that reflected
lack of organizational support than to job pressures. Managers reported experiencing job pressures
more often than professionals/engineers, but attributed less stress intensity to these pressures. ‘Lack
o f opportunity for advancement’ and ‘inadequate salary’ were the most salient stressors for the clerical
workers. Implications of the findings for the design of stress management and organizational change
programmes werc discussed.

Kryioords: Job stressors; Occupational di&ermces; S ~ ~ Kmeasurement;

SS Job stress si.uvey (JSS); Stressjottors; Job
pressures; Lack of support.

I. Introduction
Important new developments in research on stress in the workplace have been summarized
by several authors (Cooper and Payne 1988, Ivancevich and Ganster 1987, Riley and
Zaccharo 1987). While the incidence of stressful events has been investigated for a
number of occupations and occupational differences in sources of job-related stress have
received increasing attention (e.g., Caplan et al. 1975, Kroes et al. 1974), relatively little
research has been directed toward understanding the specific stressors typically
experienced by employees at different occupational levels. In order to ameliorate job stress,
the characteristics of a job that are perceived as most stressful by particular occupational
groups must be identified.
The research literature on occupational stress has focused on concepts such as role
ambiguity and role conflict as major determinants of stress reactions in organizational
settings (Bechr 1985, Fisher and Gitelson 1983, Jackson and Schuler 1985). It has been
suggested, for example, that higher-level employees perceive morc role ambiguity, while
lower-level employees experience more role conflict (Hamner and Tosi 1974, Kahn et a/.
1964). In studies examined by meta-analysis, however, Jackson and Schuler (1985) found
0267 8373/Y1 $ 3 0 0 0 1991 T d y h & Francis Ltd.
166 /./. Turnage and C . D. Spielberger

no relationship between organizational level, role conflict, and role ambiguity, and little
evidence of the effects of these variables on job performance or worker satisfaction.
Factors that consistently appear to influencejob stress include task demands, workload,
job security, organizational structure, participation in decision-making, locus of control,
and utilization of employee skills. The findings in a number of studies also suggest that the
nature and severity or organizational stressors may differ as a function of occupational
level and the type of work performed (e.g., Axelrod and Gavin 1980, Marino and White
1985, Moch et a/. 1979, Parasuraman and Alutto 1981).
A major limitation of research on sources of stress in the workplace stems from
confusion in the conceptual definition of job stress, which generally differs from study to
study (cf., Kasl 1978, Schuler 1980). Typically, measures of tjob stress’ include a wide
range of content, such as organizational characteristics, employee skills, personality traits,
and health status (Beehr and Newman 1978, Sharit and Salvendy 1982, Shaw and Riskind
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1983). Moreover, organizational factors and individual differences in ability and

personality tend to be confounded with reactions to stressful events in most measures of
occupational stress.
Environmental aspects of job stress have been measured primarily in terms of general
role demands or expectations, whereas specific job demands and task characteristics have
been neglected. Jackson and Schuler (1985: 47) suggested that ‘. . . a useful direction for
further research would be the development of good diagnostic tools for pinpointing specific
[italics added] aspects about one’s job that are ambiguous or conflicting’. In a similar vein,
Beehr and Newman (1978) noted that work environment variables need to be measured
both objectively and subjectively in stress research, and Murphy and Hurrell (1987)
further observed that the absence of a generic questionnaire or core set of questions retards
the development of normative data against which to compare stress levels in specific
occupational groups. The present study examines sources of job stress, using the job stress
survey (JSS), an instrument that was specifically developed to address the shortcomings
that have been noted in the measurement of occupational stress (Spielberger 1991).
The specific objectives of the present study were to evaluate differences in the
perceptions of managerial, professional, and clerical personnel of the intensity of the job
stressors measured by the JSS and their frequency of occurrence. The three groups were also
compared in terms of their total JSS intensity, frequency, and job stress index scores. The
relationship between the JSS measures and the following variables were also examined: (a)
demographic factors (age, gender); (b) employee characteristics and reactions (locus of
control, job satisfaction); and (c) organizational status (job tenure, performance ratings).

2. Method
2.1. Subjects
The pool of subjects for this study were 775 employees of a corporate industrial
headquarters who were invited to participate in the context of a total sampling plan. Of
the 322 who responded (42% return rate), 68 (21%) were classified as managers, 171
(53%) as professionals, and 69 (22%) as clerical personnel; 14 (4%) of the employees could
not be classified. The managerial group was 97% male with the average age of 50 years;
the professional group was 87% male, with an average age of 42; the clerical group was
23% male, with an average age of approximately 26. The professional group included
engineers and professionally-trained personnel from Departments of Marketing, Product
Services, and Information Systems. Response rates were similar for the three occupational
Job stress 167

2.2. Measures
2.2.1. Job stress survey (JSS): The JSS assesses sources ofjob-related stress for managerial,
professional, and clerical employees in a variety of occupations. This instrument was
adapted from the police stress survey (PSS), which evaluated the intensity and the
frequency of occurrence of 60 specific stressors encountered by law enforcement officers
(Spielberger et al. 1981), and the teacher stress survey (TSS), which comprised PSS items
judged to be applicable to teachers, plus new items more specifically related to teacher
stress (Grier 1982). Those PSS and TSS items that described stressors likely to be
encountered in a wide range of occupations were subsequently selected for the generic 30-
item JSS (Spielberger 1991).
The JSS items describe a variety of potentially stressful aspects of managerial,
professional, and clerical jobs. Each JSS stressor is rated, on a scale from 1 to 9, in terms of
the amount of job stress associated with the stressor as compared to a standard, which was
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given a job-stress rating of ‘5’. T h e standard stressor, ‘Assignment of disagreeable duties’,

was selected on the basis of consistent ratings of this stressor as average in previous research
by persons engaged in a variety of occupations (Grier 1982, Spielberger et al. 1981).
Intensity ratings greater than or less than ‘5’ indicate that a particular stressor is considered
more or less stressful than the standard.
After completing the JSS stress-intensity ratings, respondents are instructed to report
the number of days, on a scale from O to 9 days, that the stressor event occurred during
the preceding six months. In addition to the intensity and frequency scores obtained for
each item, the JSS yields total (overall) intensity and frequency scores, and scores for
factorially derived job pressure and lack of support subscales. Extensive normative data are
reported in the JSS Test Manual for corporate and university populations (Spielberger

2.2.2. Job descriptive index (JDI): This widely used index provides measures of the
following five facets of job satisfaction: supervision, pay, promotion, co-workers, and the
job itself (Smith et al. 1969). The sum of the subscale scores was used as an overall job
satisfaction score in this study.

2.2.3. Locus of control (LOC) scale: T h e L O C scale was given with a forced-choice, paired-
comparison format. This scale consists of 23 L O C and six filler items (Rotter 1966). Scores
are calculated by summing the total number of externally-oriented responses for each pair
of LOC items, with a score range of 0 to 23. Low scores represent internality and high
scores, externality.

2.2.4. TEAMS performance: TEAMS performance scores were based on data collected
during the year preceding the study, using a two-part appraisal method. Peer and
supervisor evaluations were combined to derive a single performance score for each
employee (Edwards and Sproull 1985).

2.3. Procedures
All participants responded anonymously to the JSS and the L O C scale, which were
distributed to them at the beginning of the work week. They were informed that their
responses would contribute to the development of a company stress management
programme, and asked to report their age, gender, operational area, professional
classification, and the number of years they had been employed by the company. A
subsample of 55 engineers completed and returned the JDI, and were also asked to report
168 J. J . Turnage and C. D. Spielberger

Table 1. Mean intensity and frequency ratings for the 30 JSS stressor events and loadings of the JSS
items on the lack of support (I) and job pressure (11) factors.’

Mean Mean Freq. loadings
Stressful job-related events2 intens. freq. rank I I1

1. Lack of opportunity for

advancement (3) 6.15** 3.42 19 0.52
2. Poor or inadequate supervision
(21) 6.12 2.85* 24 0.72’
3. Insufficient personnel to handle
assignment (15) 6,06** 5.15** 5 0.41
4. Inadequate support by supervisor
(6) 5.90 2.08 27 0.73
5. Personal insult from
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(17) 5.84 1.53 29 0.43
6. Fellow workers not doing their
job ( 5 ) 5.81 4.32 10 0.48
7. Dealing with crisis situations (7) 5.78 5.41** 3 0.54
8. Difficulty getting along with
supervisor (13) 5.77** 1.11 30 0.64
9. Inadequate salary (19) 5.76** 3.35** 21 0.50
10. Negative attitudes toward
organization (14) 5.67 4.73 8 0.55
11. Lack of recognition for good
work (8) 5.64 3.41 20 0.50
12. Conflicts with other
departments (30) 5.58** 3.84** 14 0.42
13. Lack of participation in policy-
making decisions (18) 5.46** 3.74 17 0.60
14. Poorly motivated co-workers
(29) 5.43 3.76 16 0.52
15. Frequent interruptions (23) 5.36 6.85 1 0.5g3
16. Meeting deadlines (26) 5-15** 6.46** 2 0.68
17. Excessive paperwork (25) 5.08* 4.84** 7 0.47
18. Assignment of disagreeable
duties (1) 5.00 3.09 22
19. Inadequate or poor quality
equipment (10) 4.98** 3.00* 23 0.4 1
20. Making critical on-the-spot
decisions (16) 4.90* 5.02** 6 0.68
21. Competition for advancement
(20) 4.88* 2.38 26 0.38
22. Noisy work area (22) 4.72 3.64 18 0.43
23. Assignment of new or
unfamiliar duties (4) 4.59 3.96 13 0.40
24. Periods of inactivity (12) 4.44 1.70** 28 0.40
25. Assignment of increased
responsibility (11) 4.28* 3.77 15 0.65
26. Covering work for another
employee (28) 4.27 3.97 12 0.53’
27. Frequent changes from boring
to demanding activities (24) 4.21 4.22 11 0.48
28. Working overtime (2) 4.10** 5.35** 4 0.42
29. Performing tasks not in job
description (9) 3.73* 4.54: 9 0.47
30. Insufficient personal time (27) 3.51* 2.4 1* 25 0.54
Job stress 169

‘Only salient loadings of 0.35 or higher are reported for each JSS items. Loadings for the 10 items
which define each factor subscale are underlined. No loadings are reported for item 18 which served
as the standard against which the other items were compared.
*The number for each items as it appears in the JSS Test Form is indicated in parentheses. Items for
which significant differences in the analysis of variance of the mean intensity and frequency ratings
were found for the three employee subgroups are denoted by asterisks: *p<0,05; **p<0.01.
3Despitethe strong loading of this item in the present study, it is not included in the subscale because
the loadings were weak or inconsistent in the previous research in which the subscales were derived
(Spielberger 1991).

their overall TEAMS performance appraisal scores. T h e participants were instructed to

deposit the test materials in a specially designated box in the company personnel office by
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the end of the work week.

3. Results
Mean stress intensity and frequency ratings are reported in table 1 for each of the 30 JSS
stressors for the total sample of 322 employees. The specificjob-related events are ordered
according to decreasing mean stress intensity ratings for the total sample. The highest
levels of stress intensity were attributed to ‘lack of opportunity for advancement’, ‘poor or
inadequate supervision’, and ‘insufficient personnel to adequately handle an assignment’;
the intensity ratings for each of these stressors was 6.0 or higher. The individual stressors
that were reported as occurring most often during the past six months were: ‘frequent
interruptions’, ‘meeting deadlines’, and ‘dealing with crisis situations’. Total stress
intensity scores correlated positively and significantly (r=0.27, pt0.01) with total stress
frequency scores.
T h e intensity ratings of the 30 JSS items were factor analysed, using the principal axis
method of factor extraction, with squared multiple correlations as estimates of commun-
ality. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used in the data analyses
(Nie et al. 1975). Eigenvalues were plotted against the eigenvectors, and the resultant
curves were examined, using Cattell’s (1966) scree test and the ‘breaks’ criterion suggested
by Cliff and Hamburger (1967) and Pennel (1968) to determine the number of factors to
be extracted and rotated by varimax. An optimal factorial solution was defined as satisfying
both Thurstone’s (1947) and Kaiser’s (1958) notions of simple structure, in which each
variable (item) loaded unambiguously on one, and only one, factor.
T h e scree-breaks criterion suggested that two factors should be rotated, but to allow
for the inexact nature of these tests, both two and three factor solutions were computed.
Examination of each solution for simple structure, parsimony, and psychological meaning-
fulness indicated that the two-factor solution best satisfied these criteria. Essentially the
same two factors were identified for managerial, professional, and clerical personnel in the
present study that were found in three previous studies (Spielberger 1991). A factor
analysis of the frequency ratings of the JSS items yielded a similar two-factor solution.
The salient factor loadings for theJSS intensity items are reported in table 1; loadings
for the items comprising the lack of support (I) and job pressure (11) factor subscales, as
defined in previous research (Spielberger 1991), are italicized. In the present study, each
JSS intensity item had a salient loading of 0.35 or higher on the same factor as in previous
studies (Spielberger 1991); there were no dual loadings. It is interesting to note that all but
one of the 10 items that comprised the lack of support factor were related as more stressful
170 J. J. Turnage and C. D. Spielberger

Table 2. Mean ratings of the JSS items for which significant differences in stress intensity or stress
frequency were found between managerial, professional, and clerical personnel.1

Mgr. eng. Cleric. Group
(n=68) (n=171) (n=69) F2 diff.

Stress intensity items

Insufficient personnel 6.2 (1.9) 6.3 (1.6) 5.0 (2.3) 14.64*** M, P > C
Conflicts w/other depts. 6.0 (1.8) 5.7 (1.8) 4.7 (2.4) 9.15*** M, P > C
Lack of partic. in dec. 5.5 (1.9) 5.7 (1.7) 4.3 (2.5) 12.42*** M, P > C
Inadeq. or poor qual. equip. 4.5 (2.1) 5.2 (2.0) 4.4 (2.3) 5.45** P>M, C
Working overtime 3.2 (1.8) 4.5 (2.1) 3.7 (2.3) 10.85*** P>M, C
Diff. getting along w/sup. 5.7 (2.7) 5.9 (2.3) 4.8 (2.8) 4.76** P>C
Meeting deadlines 5.1 (1.9) 5.3 (2.0) 4.4 (2.1) 4.97** P>C
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Lack opp. for advancement 5.2 (2.2) 6.1 (2.1) 6.6 (2.4) 7.05** P, C > M
Inadequate salary 4.8 (2.1) 5.8 (1.9) 6.3 (2.3) 9.47*** P, C > M
Stress frequency items
Meeting deadlines 7.6 (2.5) 6.6 (3.0) 5.1 (3.9) 11.77*** M, P > C
Insufficient personnel 6-3 (3.3) 5.6 (3.5) 2.8 (3.2) 22.97*** M, P > C
Excessive paperwork 5-7 (3.5) 5.1 (3.5) 3.7 (3.8) 5.99** M, P > C
Conflicts w/other depts. 5-0 (3.3) 4.1 (3.2) 2.0 (2.9) 16.20*** M, P > C
Dealing w/crisis sit. 7-2 (2-6) 5.5 (3.1) 3.7 (3.4) 22.71*** M>P>C
Working overtime 7-7 (2.9) 5.2 (3.8) 3.6 (3.9) 22.06*** M>P>C
Critical on-the-spot dec. 6.8 (2.8) 5.2 (3.2) 2.7 (2.8) 32.38*** M>P>C
Inadequate salary 1-9 (3.2) 3.2 (3.8) 4.9 (4.1) 11.31*** C>M, P
Periods of inactivity 1-0 (2.0) 1.4 (2.6) 3.0 (3.4) 11,64*** C>M, P

IStandard deviations of the item ratings are given in parentheses.
*Significant differences based on analysis of variance denoted by asterisks: **p<O.Ol; ***pt0-001.

than the standard (above 5.0), and that most of the items that defined the job pressure
factor were rated below average in stress intensity.
Differences in the mean stress intensity ratings of employees in the three occupational
groups for each of the 30 JSS items were evaluated by analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and
subsequent Scheffk tests. As can be seen in table 1, statistically-significant differences
( ~ ( 0 . 0 5 )between the intensity ratings of the three employee groups were found for 15
(50%) of the JSS stress-related events. Similar analyses identified significant differences in
mean stress frequency scores for 13 of the 30 JSS items.
T h e mean intensity and mean frequency scores of managers, professionals/engineers,
and clerical workers for the 18 JSS items for which group differences were significant at
the 0.01 level are presented in table 2. Managers and professionals/engineers rated
‘insufficient personnel’, ‘conflicts with other departments’, and ‘lack of participation in
policy-making decisions’ as significantly greater in stress intensity than did the clerical
personnel. They also rated ‘meeting deadlines’, ‘insufficient personnel’, ‘excessive paper-
work’, and ‘conflicts with other departments’ as occurring more frequently than the
clerical staff. The managers reported that ‘dealing with crisis situations’, ‘working
overtime’, and ‘making critical on-the-spot decisions’ occurred more frequently than did
the professionals/engineers, who, in turn, reported experiencing these three classes of
stressors more often than the clerical workers.
Professionals/engineers attributed significantly greater stess intensity to ‘inadequate or
poor quality equipment’ and ‘working overtime’ than did the managers or clerical
employees, and they rated ‘difficulty getting along with supervisors’ and ‘meeting
Job stress 171

Table 3. Means and standard deviations of the job stress survey scale scores for managerial,
professional, and clerical personnel.

Mgr. Prof./Eng. Cleric. Group

Scale (n=68) (n=171) (n=69) F diff.

Lack of support
Intensity 5.36 5.70 5.40 2.48 NS
(1.35) (1.11) (1.50)
Frequency 3.09 3.41 3.27 0.63 NS
(1.92) (2.03) (2-14)
Job pressure
Intensity 4.17 4.69 4-27 7.12*** P>M, C
(1.01) (1.01) (1.34)
Frequency 5.56 4.62 3.65 15.70*** M>P>C
(1.92) (1.97) (2-03)
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Job stress 20.75 21.95 18-10 3*37*’ P>C

index (8.85) (10.76) (10.47)

***p<o.oo 1.

deadlines’ as significantly more stressful than the clerical personnel. Both professionals/
engineers and clerical workers rated ‘lack of opportunity for advancement’ and ‘inadequate
salary’ as significantly greater in stress intensity than the managers. Clerical employees
reported that ‘inadequate salary’ and ‘periods of inactivity’ occurred more often than did
the other two groups.
Separate intensity and frequency scores were computed by summing the individual
ratings for each of the 30 stressors; scores for these scales ranged from 30 to 270, and from
0 to 270, respectively. An overall JSI, with a score range of 0-81, was determined by
summing the products of the frequency and intensity scores for all 30 JSS items, and
determining the average score, as follows:

JsI= z,
30 Item Intensity x Item Frequency

Scores for the JSS lack of support and job pressure intensity and frequency subscales were
computed by summing the ratings for the 10 items that comprise each of these scales. T h e
items in the lack of support subscale, as listed in table 1, are 1 , 4 , 6 , 8 , 9 , 10, 11, 13, 14, and
19. T h e job pressure subscale items are 7, 16, 17, 20, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29, and 30.
Mean JSI and JSS factor scores for the three occupational groups are reported in table 3.
All three groups attributed higher stress intensity to lack of support stressors than to job
pressures, while reporting that the job pressures occurred more often. Significant group
differences were found for the job pressure intensity and frequency subscales, and for the
JSI, but not for the lack of support subscales. Professionals/engineers assigned greater
stress intensity ratings for job pressures than managers or clerical personnel, whereas
managers reported experiencing job pressures more often than professionals/engineers,
who indicated that they experienced job pressures more frequently than clerical
T h e professionals/engineers scored significantly higher than the clerical personnel on
the overall JSI. While the managers’ JSI scores were more similar to those of the
professionals, they did not differ significantly from the other groups. The JSI was more
172 J. J. Turnage and C. D. Spielberger

Table 4. Correlations of the JSS Scale with job tenure and locus of control for the total sample
(n =322) and with job satisfaction and performance appraisal for engineers (n= 55).

Total sample Engineers

Job Locus of Job Performance
JSS scale tenure control satisfaction appraisal

Lack of support
Intensity -0.05 0.12* -0.08 0.03
Frequency -0.13* 046** -0.66*** 0.04
Job pressure
Intensity -0.01 0.18*** -0.18 -0.20
Frequency -0.01 -0.01 - 0.02 0.26
Job stress index -0.07 0.18*** -0.52*** 0.03
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* * p<0.0 1
***p <0.001

strongly influenced by the frequency of occurrence factor than by stress intensity, as

indicated by the correlations of this measure of 0.70 and 0.84, respectively, with the job
pressure and lack of support frequency subscales, and correlations of only 0.38 and 0.45
with the corresponding intensity scales. The differences in these correlations appeared to
be determined by the fact that the JSI is based on the sum of the products of the frequency
and intensity scores for each of the 30 JSS items. If a stressor does not occur, its frequency
score is 0. Thus, such items do not contribute to the JSI even if rated very high in stress
Table 4 presents the correlations of the JSS scales with job tenure and locus of control
for the total sample. The small but significant inverse correlation ofjob tenure with lack of
support frequency for the total sample suggests that employees with briefer tenure may
experience lack of support more often than employees with longer tenure. It should be
noted, however, that this correlation was substantially moderated by occupational level.
Managers with less job tenure reported more frequent lack of support (r=0.45, p<O.OOl)
than managers with longer tenure. Professionals/engineers with less tenure also reported
lack of support more frequently ( r = O . 2 1 , p<O-01) than did those with longer tenure,
whereas job tenure was not significantly correlated with either stress intensity or frequency
for the clerical employees.
Small but significant positive correlations were found between LOC scores and all but
one of the job stress measures. Employees who felt they had less internal control reported
experiencing lack of support more frequently, and rated both job pressure and lack of
support as more stressful, than employees with an internal locus of control orientation.
However, occupational classification also substantially moderated these relationships;
significant correlations between locus of control and the JSS scales were found only for the
professionals/engineers, for whom these values ranged from 0.20 to 0.26 (p<O-OI). In
addition to the correlations reported in table 4, JSI and lack of support scores correlated
significantly with age. Younger employees had somewhat higher JSI scores (r=0.16,
p<O.O1), and reported experiencing lack of support significantly more often (r=0.18,
p<O-O1) than older workers, which may be related to their briefer job tenure. Female
employees also had lower JSI scores (r= -0.16, ~ ( 0 . 0 1 ) than male employees.
Correlations of the JSS scales with job satisfaction and performance appraisal for the
subsample of 55 engineers are also presented in table 4. Engineers with high scores on the
JSI, especially those with high scores on the lack of support frequency subscale, reported
l o b stress 173

substantially less job satisfaction. Since the JSI and lack of support frequency subscale were
highly correlated (r=0.84), as was previously noted, low job satisfaction for the engineers
seems to be due primarily to lack of support. None of the correlations between the JSS
scales and the performance appraisal measures was statistically significant. However, this
might be due to the very low reliability of the performance appraisal instrument
(Workum, personal communication 1985).

4. Discussion
The present study evaluated differences among managers, professionals/engineers, and
clerical personnel in their perceptions of the intensity and frequency of occurrence of
specific job-related stressors. Managers perceived more frequent job pressures than
professionals/engineers, who in turn reported more frequent job pressures than clerical
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personnel. Professionals/engineers rated job pressures as more intense than the other
groups, and had higher overall JSI scores than clerical employees.
Perceptions of job stress were moderated, to some extent, by length of employment
(tenure), age, and locus of control orientation as well as by the gender of the worker. The
finding of greater overall job stress (higher JSI scores) for younger respondents, who
reported experiencing lack of support more often than older respondents, was consistent
with results reported by Osipow et a/. (1985). These investigators observed that job stress
decreased over life-span career development, which they attributed to the older workers
learning to use coping resources more effectively.
The small positive correlations obtained in the present study between locus of control
and the JSS scales were consistent with previous research in which employees who
believed they had greater control over their work environment reported less occupational
stress (Karasek 1979, Kyriacore and Sutcliff 1979, Marino and White 1985). In the present
study, however, the correlations betweeen LOC scores and job-related stress were due
primarily to the externally-oriented professionals/engineers, who reported greater stress
intensity and more frequent lack of support. Although it is unclear why these relationships
were found only for the professionals/engineers, we may speculate that they experience
intense job pressures more frequently than clerical employees (see table 3), and that they
are not as well prepared as managers for dealing with organizational demands because their
training is largely focused on the acquisition of technical skills.
In a review of the research literature, Schuler (1975) noted that job satisfaction was not
consistently related to measures of role conflict, ambiguity, or overload, the constructs
most often identified as important antecedents of occupational stress in previous research
(e.g., Brief and Aldag 1976, Jackson and Schuler 1985, Kahn et al. 1964). In contrast, for
the sample of engineers in the present study, a strong negative correlation was found
between job satisfaction and the JSS lack of support frequency subscale, suggesting that
perceived frequency of organizational support was a major determinant of employee
satisfaction. No relation was found in the present study between job satisfaction as
measured by the job descriptive index (Smith et al. 1969) and the JSS job pressure subscale.
Apparently, some employees may interpret job pressures as challenging, while others
regard such pressures as stressful.
T h e observed differences in the scores of the three employee groups on the JSS
subscales can be better understood by examining the individual job stressors that were
perceived differently by managers, professionals/engineers, and clerical workers.
Managers and professionals/engineers attributed greater stress intensity than did clerical
personnel to stressors relating to responsibility for co-ordinating the activities of other
174 /. J. Turnage and C . D. Spielberger
workers, for example, ‘insufficient personnel to adequately handle an assignment’,
‘conflicts with other departments’, and ‘lack of participation in policy-making decisions’.
O n the other hand, the professionals/engineers and clerical employees attributed greater
stress intensity than the managers to frustrations of personal needs (e.g., ‘inadequate
salary’) and career development issues (e.g., ‘lack of opportunity for advancement’). Such
findings provide further evidence that the perceived intensity and frequency of occurrence
of organizational stressors differs as a function of occupational level and type of work (e.g.,
Marino and White 1985, Parasuraman and Alutto 1981).
In general, the results of the present study corroborate previous findings concerning
the occupational profile of stressed workers. Managers, especially those who have briefer
tenure with the organization, experience stress more often than professionals, but have the
coping skills and decision-making latitude (i.e., managerial authority) to minimize the
intensity of many stressors. Typically, managers attribute greater intensity to those
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stressors over which they have less control, for example, ‘conflicts with other
departments’, ‘insufficient personnel’ and ‘lack of participation in policy-making
T h e professionals/engineers in the present study exhibited many classic features of the
‘middle-manager’ profile, and seemed to be more vulnerable to stressors relating to the
work environment, such as ‘working overtime’ and coping with ‘inadequate or poor
equipment’ (see table 2). T h e clerical workers in the present study, comprised primarily of
younger females with little job tenure, appeared to experience the classic ‘pink collar’
blues. With non-challenging, low-paying jobs and little opportunity for advancement,
‘lack of opportunity for advancement’ and ‘inadequate salary’ were the most salient
stressors for this group. In addition, females cited such items as ‘meeting deadlines’,
‘periods of inactivity’, and ‘frequent changes from boring to demanding activities’
significantly more frequently than males.
Factor analyses of the JSS items have consistently yielded two stable factors, job
pressure and lack of support. In some respects, these factors are similar to the concepts of
role conflict, ambiguity, and overload that are traditionally considered as major
determinants of job stress (Jackson and Schuler 1985). Perceived lack of support, for
example, might be expected as a consequence of role conflict and ambiguity, and job
pressure is clearly related to work overload. Situations in which there is work overload
create job pressures that frustrate the job incumbent (cf., Caplan et al. 1975, McGrath
1970). Job pressure is also related to the construct, ‘job demands’, which was found to be
associated with the development of coronary heart disease (Karasek et al. 1981).
Recent models of occupational stress (Koch et al. 1982, Motowidlo etal. 1986) suggest
that the perceived intensity and the frequency of occurrence of stressful job-related events
are influenced by different factors. Motowidlo et al. (1986) have noted that stressful-event
frequency appears to be a function of both external work conditions and the personal
characteristics of an employee, while the perceived intensity of a stressful event is
influenced primarily by the latter. In the present study, job pressures were reported as
occurring more frequently than events reflecting lack of support, and the latter were
consistently perceived as more stressful. Four of the five stressors rated as most stressful
rarely occurred (poor or inadquate supervision, insufficient personnel, inadequate support
by supervisor, personal insults). Conversely, several stressors that frequently occurred were
rated as only moderate in stress intensity (interruptions, meeting deadlines, working
The results of the present study highlight the importance of identifying specific
sources of stress for employees at different organizational levels prior to implementing
job stress 175

stress management programs. T h e y further indicate that different organizational change

strategies are needed to reduce stress for various subgroups of employees (Newman and
Beehr 1979). Ideally, management interventions should be aimed at addressing those high
intensity job stressors that occur most often for a particular target group of employees.
The need for more and better research in the area of work and stress seems self-evident.
Job stress constructs need to be more clearly conceptualized, and measures of these
constructs must avoid what Kasl (1978) has termed the ‘triviality-trap’, e.g., t h e
contamination of measures of job stress with elements of other dependent variables such as
job satisfaction. In the context of these needs and limitations, the use ofjob stress survey in
occupational stress research appears to hold considerable promise. This relatively brief,
self-report instrument can contribute t o identifying major sources of job stress for different
occupational levels and work settings, and to evaluating t h e outcomes of organizational
change and stress management programmes.
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The authors wish to thank Suzanne Oesterle, Virginia Berch, and Jeanne Weaver for their
help in preparing this manuscript. Correspondence concerning this article should be
addressed to Janet J. Turnage, Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida,
Orlando, FL 32816-0390, USA.

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Accepted 24 May 1991