UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families Working Paper No. 86 2008
This study investigated the associations between job stress and working parentsí social behavior with children and spouse after work. Thirty dual-earner families were videotaped in their homes on two weeknights; the couples also completed measures of job stressors, trait neuroticism, and marital satisfaction. A video coding system was developed to assess behavioral involvement and negative emotion expression. There were few examples of overall associations between job stress and social behavior during the first hour workers were at home with their spouse and school-age children. However, among fathers who reported higher trait neuroticism and lower marital satisfaction, more job stress was linked to negative engagement with family members. Conversely, for fathers reporting low trait neuroticism and high marital satisfaction, job stress was related to less behavioral involvement and less negative emotion with family members. No such patterns were found for mothers. The findings suggest that more distressed fathers may show a negative emotion spillover effect between work and home, whereas less distressed fathers may withdraw from family interactions.