Does dispositional capacity for self-control attenuate the relation between self-control demands at work and indicators of job strain?


This study examined whether the individual capacity for self-control (as a psychological
resource) moderates (i.e., buffers) the adverse influences of self-control demands (as a
psychological work stressor) on employees’ perceived job strain and well-being. To our  knowledge this relationship has not previously been studied. In line with the match principle
proposed by de Jonge and Dormann (2006), it was assumed that this moderator effect was
most likely to emerge in psychological outcomes, whereas physical outcomes were expected to
reflect no equivalent relationships. Data collected from 249 health care workers employed in
an area of Eastern Germany confirmed both hypotheses. Psychological outcomes (such as
emotional exhaustion, depressive symptoms and sleep disorders) clearly indicated that the
detrimental impacts of self-control demands are attenuated with an increase in self-control
capacity. By way of contrast, musculoskeletal complaints as a physical outcome, which was
mainly included as a control variable, failed to reflect any effects of both predictors. Our
findings draw attention to the importance of improving the match between self-control
demands and self-control capacity of service employees in order to make self-control demands
less stressful.
Keywords: service jobs; self-control demands; resources; job strain; match principle;
work-related stress