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The perfect recovery? Interactive influence of perfectionism and spillover work tasks on changes in exhaustion and mood around a vacation

Horan, S., Flaxman, P. ORCID: 0000-0002-6417-2499 & Stride, C. (2021). The perfect recovery? Interactive influence of perfectionism and spillover work tasks on changes in exhaustion and mood around a vacation. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 26(2), pp. 86-107. doi: 10.1037/ocp0000208


This study examined week-level changes in affective well-being among school teachers as they transitioned into and out of a 1-week vacation. In addition, we investigated the interactive influence of personality characteristics (specifically perfectionism) and spillover work activities during the vacation on changes in teachers' well-being. A sample of 224 teachers completed study measures across 7 consecutive weeks, spanning the period before, during, and after a midterm vacation (providing a total of 1,525 responses across the study period). Results obtained from discontinuous multilevel growth models revealed evidence of a vacation effect, indicated by significant reductions in emotional exhaustion, anxiety, and depressed mood from before to during the vacation. Across 4 working weeks following the vacation, exhaustion and negative mood exhibited a nonlinear pattern of gradual convergence back to prevacation levels. Teachers with a higher level of perfectionistic concerns experienced elevated working week levels of exhaustion, anxious mood, and depressed mood, followed by pronounced reductions in anxious and depressed mood as they transitioned into the vacation. However, a strongly beneficial effect of the vacation was only obtained by perfectionistic teachers who refrained from spillover work tasks during the vacation. This pattern of findings is consistent with a diathesis-stress model, in that the perfectionists' vulnerability was relatively dormant (or deactivated) during a respite from job demands. Our results may provide an explanation for why engaging in work-related activities during vacations has previously exhibited weak relationships with employees' recovery and well-being.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association, 2021. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Publisher Keywords: perfectionism, vacation, recovery from work, burnout, negative affect
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Horan Flaxman and Stride JOHP 2020 FINAL ms May 2020.pdf]
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