Not just work-to-family conflict, but how you react to it matters for physical and mental health


ABSTRACT Individuals with higher work-to-family conflict (WTFC) in general are more likely to report poorer physical and mental health. Less research, however, has examined the daily implications of WTFC, such as whether individuals’ reactions to minor WTFC day-to-day (e.g. missing family dinner due to work obligation) are associated with health outcomes. We examined whether affective reactivity to daily WTFC was associated with poorer sleep, health behaviours, and mental health in a sample who may be particularly vulnerable to daily WTFC. Employed parents in the IT industry with adolescent-aged children (N = 118, Mage  = 45.01, 44.07% female) reported daily WTFC and negative affect on 8 consecutive days, in addition to completing a survey that assessed sleep, health behaviours (smoking, drinking, exercise, fast food consumption), and psychological distress. Multilevel modelling outputted individual reactivity slopes by regressing daily negative affect on the day’s WTFC. Results of general linear models indicated that affective reactivity to WTFC was associated with poorer sleep quality and higher levels of psychological distress – even when controlling for average daily negative affect on non-WTFC days. Individual differences in reactivity to daily WTFC have implications for health. Interventions aimed to reduce daily WTFC and reactivity to it are needed.