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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Lebenswissen­schaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Psychologie

Explaining mechanisms

There is convincing evidence that work stress is related to the development of illness (Nixon, Mazzola, Bauer, Krueger, & Spector, 2011; Rau & Buyken, 2015). So yes, work stress can make you sick. Several mechanisms that explain why workplace stressors lead to sickness have been discussed. For example, the relationship between workplace stressors and physiological strain indicators (e.g. cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate variability) seem to provide a promising explanatory pathway. Additionally, changes in health behaviors, sleep disturbances, or a lack of recovery are additional pathways that might explain, why workplace stressors lead to diseases in the long run. Besides these physiological and behavioral pathways, psychological pathways such as changes in cognitions might also be relevant. In our research we are interested in gaining insights into these mechanisms that explain why work stress makes you sick. In our empirical studies we currently focus on work-related rumination, and the effects of work stressors on physiological strain indicators as possible explaining mechanisms.


Selected Key Publications

Baethge, A., Vahle-Hinz, T., Schulte-Braucks, J., & van Dick, R. (2018). A matter of time? Challenging and hindering effects of time pressure on work engagement. Work & Stress, 32(3), 228-247, DOI: 10.1080/02678373.2017.1415998
Vahle-Hinz, T., Mauno, S., de Bloom, J., & Kinnunen, U. (2017). Rumination for innovation? Analyzing the longitudinal effects of work-related rumination on creativity at work and off-job recovery. Work & Stress, 31 (4), 315-337, DOI: 10.1080/02678373.2017.1303761
Vahle-Hinz, T., Bamberg, E., Dettmers, J., Friedrich, N., Keller, M. (2014). Effects of work stress on work-related rumination, restful sleep, and nocturnal heart rate variability experienced on workdays and weekends. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 19(2), 217-23