Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Etcheverry, Paul

Abstract

The purpose of the current studies was to determine whether "matches", or fit, between actual task control and participants' desire for control over their environment lead to better stress and task performance outcomes than "mismatches", or misfit, in high work demand environments only. These studies also investigated the mediating effects of cognitive stressor appraisals and stress, as well as the moderating influence of hardiness on threat appraisals. Data were collected on 366 undergraduate students, who were asked to complete individual difference measures and engage in timed performance tasks. Results indicated no significant interactions between actual task control and desire for control for the outcomes of cognitive stressor appraisals, experienced stress, or task performance. No mediating influence was found for cognitive appraisals or stress, nor was there a buffering effect of hardiness on the cognitive appraisal process. Despite the non-significant results, the effects on task performance trended in the predicted direction in both studies, such that the highest task performance was found in cases of match between actual task control and desire for control, whereas the lowest task performance was found in cases of mismatch. These findings yield some support for Person-Environment Fit theory, demonstrating that actual task control and desire for control should be considered together when predicting task performance in workplace contexts.

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