Work, Happiness, and Unhappiness
By Peter Warr
Psychology Press – 2007 – 562 pages
Award-winning psychologist Peter Warr explores why some people at work are happier or unhappier than others. He evaluates different approaches to the definition and assessment of happiness, and combines environmental and person-based themes to explain differences in people’s experience. A framework of key job characteristics is linked to an account of primary mental processes, and those are set within a summary of demographic, cultural, and occupational patterns. Consequences of happiness or unhappiness for individuals and groups are also reviewed, as is recent literature on unemployment and retirement. Although primarily focusing on job situations, the book shows that processes of happiness are similar across settings of all kinds. It provides a uniquely comprehensive assessment of research published across the world.
Initial chapters explore the several meanings of happiness and the ways in which those have been measured by psychologists. The construct includes pleasure, satisfaction and subjective well-being, and unhappiness has been studied in terms of dissatisfaction, strain, anxiety, and depression. The impacts of principal environmental features on these experiences are reviewed through an analogy with vitamins in relation to physical health—beneficial only up to a point.
However, environmental effects are not fixed. Influences on happiness from within the person are examined in terms of principal thinking patterns, personality styles, and cultural backgrounds. Differences are explored between groups (men and women, older and younger people, employees who are full-time and part-time, and so on), and processes of person-environment fit are placed within an overall framework which emphasizes the impact of variations in personal salience.
The book is written primarily for academic readers, including senior undergraduates, graduate students, teachers, and researchers in fields of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Management, Human Resources, and Labor Studies. However, the topic's centrality in many professions makes it important also to a wider readership.
"Interest in the phenomenon of happiness, and why it matters in the workplace, has never been higher. This book, by a researcher who has been one of the more prominent contributors to this area for nearly four decades, provides a comprehensive appraisal of the current state of thinking regarding the causes, and consequences, of happiness at work.” - Timothy A. Judge, University of Florida, Department of Management, USA
"Peter Warr has contributed to this area like none other. He presents a very useful and highly readable synopsis of research into emotions, satisfaction, and well-being at work. I highly recommend this book.” - Michael Frese, University of Giessen and London Business School, UK
"Peter Warr… has produced a formidable book that must be reckoned with for the next 10 to 20 years of research, theory, and practice… The book is exhaustive and comprehensive. It represents the culmination of many years of work, and surpassing it would be very difficult… For those interested in job or career satisfaction, job design, or happiness in general, this book represents the baseline for future work." – Jay C. Thomas in PsycCRITIQUES
"This is an excellent and a comprehensive book and a must read book for those in the area of Industrial/Organizationa/Occupational/Clincal Psychology, Management, and Human Resources. I would also strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the area of mental health in the workplace." - Katy Kamakar in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The Principal Concepts. Well-Being and Self-Validation. Unemployment and Retirement: Role Preference and Other Influences. The Vitamin Analogy. Constant Effects Beyond a Threshold. Control, Skill, and Goals. Variety, Clarity, and Social Contact. Combinations, Measurement, Causes, and Work Profiles. Social and Judgmental Influences. Differences Between Sets of People. Personality, Genes, and Happiness. Moderator Effects and Differential Salience. Person-Environment Fit and Work Values. Some Consequences of Happiness.