Mindfulness as a mediator between the effect of neuroticism on job performance and experienced stress at work

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Mindfulness as a mediator between the effect of neuroticism on job performance and

experienced stress at work

By: Noortje in ‘t Veld Supervisor: Olga Kowalska

University of Amsterdam Date: 21-06-2021

Statement of originality

This document is written by Noortje in ‘t Veld who declares to take full responsibility for the contents of this document.

I declare that the text and the work presented in this document are original and that no sources other than those mentioned in the text and its references have been used in creating it.

The Faculty of Economics and Business is responsible solely for the supervision of completion of the work, not for the contents.

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Abstract

Mindfulness, Neuroticism, Stress, and Job Satisfaction are popular research topics in the field of management. However, it is not research yet if Mindfulness mediates the relationship between Neuroticism and Stress and Job Satisfaction. The main hypotheses of this study were 1) there is a positive relationship between Neuroticism and Stress which is mediated by trait Mindfulness, 2) there is a negative relationship between Neuroticism and Job Satisfaction which is mediated by trait

Mindfulness. This study was a quantitative independent cross-sectional survey design. The hypotheses were tested with a sample of 205 employees in the age from 18 till 74, working from 16 till 32 hours a week. The first hypothesis was supported: there was a positive relationship between Neuroticism and Stress which was partially mediated. The second hypothesis was rejected: there was a negative relationship between Job Satisfaction but this relationship was not mediated by Mindfulness.

Table of contents

Introduction………...………4-5 Mindfulness at work………4 The goal of this paper………...4-5 Set up………...5 Theoretical framework………5-10 Neuroticism………..5 Neuroticism and job satisfaction………..5-6 Neuroticism and stress………..6-7 Mindfulness………..7 Mindfulness and job satisfaction……….8 Mindfulness and experienced stress at work………8-9 Mindfulness and neuroticism………...9 Mindfulness as a mediator………..9-10 Methods……….………10-12 Design………10 Sampling strategy……….…10-11 Measurements………...…………11-12 Results………...………12-16 Correlation……….12 Assumptions………...13

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Hypotheses testing………14-16

Results visualised………...…16

Discussion………..16-20 Summary………...…16-18 Limitations and future research………18-19 External validity……….……19

Implications………19

Contributions………..20

Conclusion………..…20 References………..………...21-25 Appendix…...………26-32

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1: Introduction

1.1: Mindfulness at work

How often have you arrived at work, realising that you can almost not remember what you did all morning? How often did you go to a specific room at work, forgetting your intention to go there?

And do you ever feel like running on an automatic pilot? These days, the world is changing fast and your job can be demanding and stressful sometimes. That’s why we sometimes tend to drown in our thoughts and only think about everything that should be done at the end of the day instead of being with full awareness in the present moment. Mindfulness, however, is a state of mind where one is paying attention to the present in a non-judgemental way (Black, 2011). Mindfulness is an upcoming popular phenomenon since it is suggested to be positively related to successful treatment in

psychotherapy, to decrease depression, stress, and anxiety (Davis & Hayes, 2011). In the last years, even companies as Google, Intel, and Target, offered mindfulness programs to their employees (Coffey, Hartman & Fredrickson, 2010) But, why is that? Mindfulness meditation leads to positive outcomes in psychotherapy, thus, why not also use it for positive outcomes at work? The more demanding our job becomes, the more stressed we can be about our performance at work. The

increasing burn-out rate at work can be a consequence of this. With all the stress involved and running on automatic pilot, do we actually still like our job?

1.2: The goal of this paper

Our jobs are often a large part of our daily lives, that is one reason why job satisfaction is a trending research topic today. Furthermore, job satisfaction is also important for employers, since it is positively related to job performance (Pushpakumari, 2008). How satisfied we are with our jobs depends on multiple facts. One thing, however, is quite rigid, namely our personality. A famous way of defining our personality is the Big Five framework (Goldberg, 1990). An interesting personality trait of the Big Five is neuroticism, which is often linked to low job satisfaction and high stress. Stress can be reduced by multiple practices; an upcoming one is mindfulness meditation. Research has already been done on mindfulness as a predictor variable for job satisfaction and perceived stress (Andrews, Kacmar & Kacmar, 2014).; Coffey & Hartman, 2008). Furthermore, research already has been done on the Big Five personality traits as predictor variables for job satisfaction and perceived stress (Furnham, Eracleous & Chamorro‐Premuzic, 2009; Lee‐Baggley, Preece & DeLongis, 2005).

There is, however, one way of doing research missing in the already existing knowledge. It has not investigated, yet, if mindfulness could also be a mediator between variables. That is why this paper will investigate the following question: is the relationship between neuroticism and the outcome variables job satisfaction and experienceed stress, explained by the trait mindfulness? In other words, is it that neurotic people are less satisfied with their jobs and perceive more stress because of the fact that they are less mindful? If employers know what kind of employees they have in their company in terms of personality, they know what to expect. That is why this is a relevant topic to study which will

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contribute to the existing knowledge. Furthermore, this research will be helpful for employees, because, if mindfulness mediates the relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction and stress, neurotics could train employees to be more mindful so that they have less stress and to be more satisfied with their jobs.

1.3: Set up

The upcoming section is the theoretical framework, which covers the relevant research that already has been done. In that section, the concepts, definitions and the already existing knowledge will be explained. After that, the research design will be clarified. Then, the statistical analysis can be done after which a conclusion can be drawn and implications can be made.

2: Theoretical framework 2.1.1: Neuroticism

By understanding our personality, we can predict multiple outcomes. A commonly used approach in management research is the Big Five personality trait model, which explains someone’s personality with five characteristics in a broad way (Gosling, Rentfrow & Swann Jr, 2003). The five personality traits which are included in this theory are openness to experience, extraversion,

neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness. One of the big five personality traits is neuroticism, which is defined as a person who experiences negative effects, including anger, stress, anxiety, self‐consciousness, irritability, emotional instability, and depression (Widiger & Oltmans, 2017). Research suggests that neuroticism can predict several outcome variables, for example, depression (Resnik, Garron & Resnik, 2013). Rumination on sadness is one of the reasons why neurotics have more chance to become depressed (Roelofs, Huibers, Peeters, & Arntz, 2008). Also, neuroticism is an important predictor for happiness, meaning that people associated with low neuroticism are happier (Vittersø & Nilsen, 2002). Furthermore, neuroticism is a common research topic in the management field. Low neuroticism is positively correlated with job satisfaction (Judge, Heller & Mount, 2002) which will be further explained in the next section. Furthermore, neuroticism is positively related to burnout rates at work (Goddard, Patton & Creed, 2004). Also, high neuroticism is related to poorer work performance, meaning that neuroticism explains the variance in

cooperativeness, work quality, and work habits, in a negative way (Lysaker, Bell, Kaplan & Bryson, 1998).

2.1.2: Neuroticism and job satisfaction

Job satisfaction is defined as ‘the extent to which a worker is content with the rewards she or he gets out of her or his job, particularly in terms of intrinsic motivation (Statt, 2004, p.78). Job satisfaction is researched often in the past decade since job satisfaction leads to higher job

performance which is of course beneficial for a company (Pushpakumari, 2008). Furthermore, low job satisfaction increases burnout rates (Visser, Smets, Oort & De Haes, 2003). Mafini and Dlodlo

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(2014) found that job satisfaction has a positive effect on life satisfaction. Thus, taking these points into account, job satisfaction is an interesting and important topic to investigate, since it affects the employee itself, but also the employer and the company.

Judge et al., (2002) did a meta-analysis on the relationship between all the big five traits and job satisfaction. Neuroticism turned out to be negatively related to job satisfaction. The relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction has been studied among small observational studies, for example on bank employees (N=126) (Hlatywayo, Mhlanga & Zingwe, 2013). Also, this relationship has been studied among nurses (N=140) (Barr, 2018). The study with the largest amount of

participants (N= 315536), was one that took also education and physical activity into account (Rukh et al., 2020). All these researches have the same result: neuroticism is negatively related to job

satisfaction. But how can this be explained? People with low neuroticism experience stress and

anxiety to a low extent and are relatively emotional stable. Because of this, low neurotics are not easily stressed about work and they will not take criticism at work too personal, because they are emotionally stable. Furthermore, they are less angry, which makes low neurotics happier in general. All these traits which are linked to low neuroticism explain why low neurotics are more satisfied with their jobs. That is why the first hypotheses of this research can be stated:

H1: neuroticism has a negative effect on job satisfaction.

2.1.3: Neuroticism and stress

For approximately half a century we have been studying stress and pressure at work. Research about stress is becoming more important since there is an increasing trend in experienced stress at work (Murphy & Sauter, 2003). A commonly used definition for stress is ‘a misfit between a person's skills and abilities and demands of the job and a misfit in terms of a person's needs supplied by the job environment’ (French, Rogers & Cobb, 1974). The phenomenon of work stress is often negatively related to worker’s physical and mental health (Sonnetag & Frese, 2003). Thus, stress at work affects employees. Stress at work, however, also affects the company because it is researched that stress at work lowers job performance (Siu, 2003). That is why it is interesting to investigate experienced stress at work.

Studies have been done on the variables neuroticism and stress, but mostly with stress or neuroticism as a mediator. For example, Wang et al., (2001) suggested that the association between job stress and grumpy behaviour towards children and spouses at home was moderated by the trait neuroticism. This moderation effect was stronger for men than for women. The explanation for the moderation effect is that people who experience stress at work behave grumpy at home because they are not emotionally stable and cannot cope with stress, which is associated with the trait neuroticism.

But, will it also work the other way around? Neurotics experience more negative effects, are not emotionally stable, are relatively angrier and experience more stress generally. During a workday, neurotics could get irritated by co-workers and they could take criticism personal because they are not

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emotionally stable. Furthermore, neurotics are more stressed in general, and therefore, they will also experience more stress on the work floor. A study among Chinese nurses confirmed this; nurses with high neuroticism were irritated by co-workers the soonest (Wang & Zhang, 2017). This leads to the second hypotheses of this research:

H2: neuroticism has a positive effect on stress at work.

2.2.1: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not only meditation, however, it is also defined as ‘the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment’ (Brown & Ryan, 2003). Another way of understanding mindfulness is by the explanation of the being versus the doing mode. Lyddy and Good (2017) explained the doing mode as a particular state where we try to get things done. We state how we want things to be, then compare it to how things are, and we try to fill this gap. The doing-mode can be efficient and helpful for the impersonal and external world, for when we need to get things done. But, this is not helpful for the personal internal world; what if we cannot find a solution? The opposite of the doing mode is the being mode. In this mode, we do not want to achieve particular goals and we allow things as how they are at that moment. People who are mindful, know how to switch between these modes, and how to bring awareness to the present moment.

Mindfulness can be seen as a practice, as a state, and as a trait. An important thing to mention is that in this research, mindfulness will be seen as a trait. More details about the way this trait is measured will be in the method section. Mindfulness as a state is defined as ‘a mental behavior, which is statelike, context-dependent, and variable’ (Bishop et al., 2004). Mindfulness as a trait is defined as one’s predisposition to be mindful in daily life (Jaiswal, 2018). Trait mindfulness tends to be stable over time (Brown & Ryan, 2003). Kiken et al. (2015) did a study with an observational design with repeated measures over the course of a mindfulness-based intervention. In an eight-week program, participants had to report their state and trait mindfulness. Results showed that meditation practices increased the rates of state mindfulness, which increased trait mindfulness. Thus, trait mindfulness is stable over time but can be increased by meditation.

Mindfulness research has been done on mental disorders, for example on people that are on the autism spectrum (Poquérusse, Pagnini & Langer, 2021). Furthermore Segal, Teasdale & Williams (2004) have constructed a Mindfulness-Based-Cognitive-Therapy program as a therapy for depression.

The most important finding in this research was that mindfulness is positive treatment for depression.

This was interesting for patients who suffered from depression and wanted to try something else than depression medication. This research was a breakthrough that encouraged other researchers to analyse the effect of mindfulness on other variables, such as job satisfaction, which will be explained in the up following section.

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2.2.2: Mindfulness and job satisfaction

As mentioned, another upcoming topic is to research mindfulness at work. Mindfulness is researched in the field of human research management. It has been investigated that mindfulness has a direct positive effect on job satisfaction (Andrews et al., 2014). Mindfulness also increases physical and mental health (Mace, 2007). Geschwindt et al. (2011) investigated adults with lifetime depression.

The outcome was that mindfulness training increased appraisals of positive emotion. Thus, by mindfulness meditation, people become more positive. This is because mindful people can distance themselves from a situation, and therefore will not take things personally, which will make them happier. Also, mindful people are with full awareness in the present moment, and so they can enjoy positive things more because they are aware of this positive moment. This could also mean that people who are more mindful, and thus more positive, will appraise their job as more positive and are thus more satisfied with their jobs compared to people who are less mindful. Bajaj et al. (2019) also researched the relationship between mindfulness and overall happiness and tried to explain this relationship by a mediation model. The conclusion was that when people are more mindful, they are more emotionally stable and have higher self-esteem, and therefore, they are happier. Furthermore, Hülsheger, Alberts, Feinholdt & Lang (2013) did two studies on the relationship between mindfulness and job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion. Study 1 revealed that mindfulness has a positive effect on job satisfaction. Study 2 was an experimental field study which assigned one group to a

mindfulness intervention program and the other one was the control group. The mindfulness

intervention group showed significantly less emotional exhaustion and more job satisfaction than the control group. Based on this information, the third hypotheses can be stated:

H3: Mindfulness has a positive effect on job satisfaction.

2.2.3: Mindfulness and experienced stress at work

There is also a link between mindfulness and the subject experienced stress at work. It is researched that people who are mindful have less stress in general (Nyklíček & Kuijpers, 2008).

Nezlek, Holas, Rusanowska & Krejtz (2016) did a three level MLM analysis which also supported that trait mindfulness is negatively related to stress. Therefore it could be suggested that mindful people will also experience less stress at work. But, why would this be the case? The experience of stress is not only driven by the experience itself, but also by how we appraise a certain event (Weinstein et al., 2009). People who are mindful pay attention to the current situation in a non-judgemental or accepting way (Baer et al., 2006). Thus, when mindful people are facing a so-called stressful situation at work, they may not appraise this event as stressful, because they can accept a situation and will judge it as neither negative nor stressful. For example, when an employee gets to hear the deadline is changed to a week earlier than before, this mindful employee will not appraise this event as positive or negative, and thus, this employee will not be stressed about it. A less mindful employee may appraise this as negative and will get stressed about it.

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High life satisfaction lowers stress in general (Saleh, Camart & Romo, 2017). It is also researched that mindful people are more satisfied with their lives (Wang & Kong, 2014). This might suggest that mindful people, who often have higher life satisfaction, may also experience lower stress in general, and thus, will also experience less stress at work. Taking all of this into account, the fourth hypotheses can be stated:

H4: Mindfulness has a negative effect on experienced stress at work.

2.2.4: Mindfulness and neuroticism

Mindfulness can also be linked to neuroticism. There has not been done a lot of research yet on the direct effect of neuroticism on mindfulness. One study found that neuroticism is negatively related to mindfulness (Giluk, 2009). This was a meta-analysis, which is thus a very strong source.

Iani, Lauriola, Cafaro & Didonna (2017) did research on the different dimensions of mindfulness and their relations with neuroticism. They found that nonreactivity and being less judgemental – traits of mindfulness – were negatively associated with neuroticism. Thus, people with low neuroticism – experiencing less stress, are more self-conscious, and are more emotionally stable – are more mindful.

Unfortunately, this is the only research that studied this relationship. However, there could be a direct effect of neuroticism on mindfulness. Because neurotics are less emotionally stable, have more anger, thus, it could be suggested that it will be harder for them to distance themselves from a situation, thus being mindful. Mindfulness is also about being non-judgemental about a situation. Neurotics

experience more anger, and therefore they might tend to rate situations more negatively instead of being non-judgemental about it. Therefore, the fifth hypotheses can be stated:

H5: Neuroticism has a negative effect on mindfulness.

2.2.5: Mindfulness as a mediator

Wenzel, von Versen, Hirschmüller & Kubiak (2015) tested a mediation model with mindfulness as a mediator for the relationship between neuroticism and subjective well-being. They found that one fourth of the negative relationship between neuroticism and subjective well-being was explained by being less mindful. In other words, people with high neuroticism, were less mindful, and therefore had lower scores of subjective well-being. However, this only holds for one-fourth of the participants; for the other participants, there was no significant mediation effect. This study offered a promising research avenue for the role of mindfulness as a mediator. Neurotics react with more severe emotions and can have mood spillovers (Suls & Martin, 2005). Therefore, they could have more trouble with distancing from a situation and being non-judgemental. This leads to neurotics being less mindful.

And because of this, they could experience more stress at work and have lower job satisfaction. That is why this research will investigate if mindfulness is the mediator between the relationship of

neuroticism and job satisfaction and the relationship of neuroticism and experienced stress at work.

Therefore, the last hypotheses can be stated:

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H6: Neuroticism has a negative effect on job performance and mindfulness will have a mediating effect on this relationship.

H7: Neuroticism has a positive effect on stress and mindfulness will have a mediating effect on this relationship.

The following figure shows the conceptual model of this research and explains the aim of this research.

Figure 1: Conceptual model

3: Methods

In this section, the methods will be discussed. First, the design and sampling strategy will be covered. Secondly, the measures will be discussed and at last, the analytical plan will be explained.

This research investigated if there is a mediation effect of Mindfulness for the relationship between Neuroticism and the outcome variables Job Satisfaction and Experienced Stress at work.

3.1: Design

This was a quantitative independent cross-sectional survey design. The data for this study was collected via a survey. The survey consisted of twelve parts namely a consent form, introduction, control variables, meditation practice, the five facet mindfulness questionnaire, Big Five personality traits, Burnout, Resilience at work, Psychological Contract, Organizational Citizen Behaviour, Perceived Stress, and Job Satisfaction.

3.2: Sampling strategy

The data gathering was in collaboration with six other students who researched mindfulness at work. The survey was made in Qualtrics, a platform that was provided by the University of

Amsterdam. To ensure reliability, the sampling procedure was purposive, meaning that the surveys were sent to people who were in the target audience for this research. The target audience were employees between de age of 18 and 67. The invitations for the survey were sent through a link via social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The surveys were conducted in English and all scales were based on previous research. There was no time limit for the participants for filling in the survey. The data collection process took place in March and April. Participation was voluntary and an informed consent statement had to be signed prior to participation, to take into

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account ethical considerations. Also, participants could stop filling in the survey whenever they did not feel comfortable for example. In total, there were 373 responses, of which 205 could be used. 168 responses were deleted because they were incomplete. Of the 205 participants, 66% was female, and 34% male (SD = 0.504). The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 74 years old (M= 27,

SD=1.520). The participants worked from 16 to more than 32 hours a week (M= 24, SD= 0.878). The civil status of the participants was either single, or registered partnership, or married, or divorced or separated, or widowed, or they preferred not to say (SD=2.096). The nationality of the respondents was mostly Dutch, namely 84.8%. (M=121,25, SD=23,103).

3.3: Measurements 3.3.1: Neuroticism

Neuroticism was measured with the mini international personality item pool (Goldberg et al., 2006). It consists of four items measuring each of the big-five personality traits. Participants were asked to rate statements on a scale of six items: ‘strongly agree’, ‘somewhat agree’, ‘neither agree nor disagree’, ‘somewhat agree’, ‘strongly agree’. The statements for neuroticism were: ‘I have frequent mood swings’, ‘I get upset easily’, ‘I am relaxed most of the time’, ‘I seldom feel blue’. After recoding the variable, the scale showed sufficient reliability since Cronbach’s Alpha was 0.633.

3.3.2: Job satisfaction

Job satisfaction was measured with the JOB DESCRIPTIVE INDEX (Lake, Gopalkrishnan, Sliter &

Withrow, 2010). For each item, there were words listed that had to do with the items, and participants could choose to check the box ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘?’ to indicate to what extent that word was in line with their job. After recoding the variable, the scale showed sufficient reliability since Cronbach’s Alpha was 0.832.

3.3.3: Experienced stress at work

Experienced stress at work was measured with the stress in general scale (Yankelevich et al., 2012). It consists of 10 questions about perceived stress. For example: ‘in the last month, how often have you been upset of something that happened unexpectedly?’ and ‘In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?’. The participants had to choose from the 5 item scale

‘never’, ‘almost never’, ‘sometimes’, ‘fairly often’, ‘very often’. After recoding the variable, the scale showed sufficient reliability since Cronbach’s Alpha was 0.723.

3.3.4: Mindfulness

Mindfulness as a trait was measured with the five facet mindfulness questionnaire (Baer et al., 2008). This questionnaire consists of 16 items. Participants had to choose from the 5 point Likert scale

‘never or very rarely true’, ‘rarely true’, ‘sometimes true’, ‘often true’, ‘very often or always true’. It measures five aspects: observation, description, aware actions, non-judgemental inner experience, and

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non-reactivity. After recoding the variable, the scale showed sufficient reliability since Cronbach’s Alpha was 0.641.

3.3.5: Control variables

Civil status is added as a control variable since this variable is not correlated with the variables in this study. Participants could choose either single, or registered partnership, or married, or divorced or separated, or widowed, or they preferred not to say. Furthermore, age and gender were added as a control variable.

3.4: Analytical plan

Before the analysis took place, the dataset was checked for outliers and missing data. The independent variable was neuroticism, the dependent variables were job satisfaction and experienced stress at work, and the mediator was mindfulness as a trait. There are five hypotheses, namely:

• H1: Neuroticism has a negative effect on job satisfaction.

• H2: Neuroticism has a positive effect on stress at work.

• H3: Mindfulness has a positive effect on job satisfaction.

• H4: Mindfulness has a negative effect on experienced stress at work.

• H5: Neuroticism has a negative effect on mindfulness.

• H6: Neuroticism has a negative effect on job performance via mindfulness.

• H7: Neuroticism has a positive effect on stress via mindfulness.

The first five hypotheses will be tested with a linear regression model on SPSS. The mediation effect (hypothesis 6 and 7) will be tested with PROCESS macro model 4 (Hayes, 2018).

4: Results

In this section, the results of the statistical tests will be showed and explained. In the first part of this section, the correlation table will be explained and in the second section the assumptions for the linear regression will be considered and the hypotheses will be tested.

4.1: Correlation

Table 1 contains the means, standard deviations, and correlations. In this table, it becomes clear that neuroticism has a correlation with all the other variables: mindfulness, stress, and job satisfaction. Furthermore, mindfulness is correlated with the outcome variables stress and job satisfaction. Civil status is added as a control variable.

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Table 1: Descriptive statistics and correlations

4.2: Assumptions

To test if there is a linear relationship between the independent variable neuroticism and the dependent variables stress and job satisfaction, a linear regression is used. Before the analysis can be done, it should be considered if the assumptions for a linear regression hold. The first assumption is that there is a linear relationship between the dependent and the independent variable. This is tested with a scatter plot and this assumption holds (see appendix 3). The second assumption is that the values of residuals are independent. Because this was a cross-sectional survey, this is not a concern.

So this assumption holds as well. The third assumption is that the residuals are normally distributed.

This is tested with a normal probability plot. According to this plot (see appendix 4), the residuals are normally distributed. The fourth assumption is that the residuals are equally variable. Via the

homoscedasticity plot (see appendix 5) of residuals, it can be seen that the residuals are equally variable, thus, there is homoscedasticity. The fourth assumption is that there are no influential data points that disproportionally affect the estimations of the regression. Looking at the standardized residuals for the variable stress, using cut-off rate 2, it is not sure that there are no influential data points that disproportionally affect the estimations of the regression because there are three outliers.

Thus, these data points need to be treated with caution. However, they are not going to be deleted in this research because of the large sample. For the variable job satisfaction, there are nine outliers. For this variable we made the same decision as for stress, let the outliers in, because of the large sample.

The fifth assumption is that there is no multicollinearity in the data. This is checked with the variance inflation factor. For both outcome variables, there is no multicollinearity (see appendix 6).

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4.3: Hypotheses testing

The model that is going to be tested is a mediation model. There are seven hypotheses, which already have been mentioned in the analytical plan. The control variable that is going to be used is civil status since this variable is not strongly correlated with the other variables. The first five

hypotheses will be tested with a linear regression. The other hypotheses will be tested with PROCESS macro model 4 (Hayes, 2018).

To test hypotheses 1, neuroticism has a negative effect on job satisfaction, a linear regression was used with the control variable civil status. The regression results (see appendix 6) showed that the R squared of model 2 was 6.25% which means that 6.25% of the variance in job satisfaction is

explained by neuroticism and civil status. The R squared change of model 2 was 6.21%, which means that neuroticism explains 6.21% of the variance in job satisfaction. This is a significant percentage because the p-value is 0.000, which is lower than 0.001. The B-value of neuroticism is -0.16, which means that if neuroticism increases with 1, measured on a scale from 1 to 5, job satisfaction decreases with 0.16, which is measured on a scale from 0 to 3. Because the B-value is a negative number, there is a negative effect. The standard error is 0.043, the t-statistic is -3.659 and the p-value is 0.000, which is lower than 0.001 which is, thus, very significant. Therefore the first hypotheses can be supported:

neuroticism has a negative effect on job satisfaction.

To test hypotheses 2, neuroticism has a positive effect on job stress, a linear regression was used with the control variable civil status. The regression results (see appendix 7) showed that the R squared of model 2 was 31.56% which means that 31.56% of the variance in stress is explained by neuroticism and civil status. The R squared change of model 2 was 31.54%, which means that neuroticism explains 31.34% of the variance in stress. This is a significant percentage because the p- value is 0.000, which is lower than 0.001. The B-value of neuroticism is 0.421, which means that if neuroticism increases with 1, measured on a scale from 1 to 5, stress increases with 0.421, which is measured on a scale from 1 to 5. Because the B-value is a positive number, there is a positive effect.

The standard error is 0.044, the t-statistic is 9.617 and the p-value is 0.000, which is lower than 0.000 which is, thus, very significant. Therefore the second hypotheses can be supported: neuroticism has a positive effect on stress.

To test hypotheses 3, mindfulness has a positive effect on job satisfaction, a linear regression was used with the control variable civil status. The regression results (see appendix 8) showed that the R squared of model 2 was 4.96% which means that 4.96% of the variance in job satisfaction is

explained by mindfulness and civil status. The R squared change of model 2 was 4.91%, which means that neuroticism explains 4.91% of the variance in job satisfaction. This is a significant percentage because the p-value is 0.001, which is lower than 0.05. The B-value of mindfulness is 0.257, which means that if mindfulness increases with 1, measured on a scale from 1 to 5, job satisfaction increases with 0.257, which is measured on a scale from 0 to 3. Because the B-value is a positive number, there

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is a positive effect. The standard error is 0.080, the t-statistic is 3.232, and the p-value is 0.001, which is lower than 0.05 which is, thus, significant. Therefore the third hypotheses can be supported:

mindfulness has a positive effect on job satisfaction.

To test hypotheses 4, mindfulness has a negative effect on experienced stress at work, a linear regression was used with the control variable civil status. The regression results (see appendix 9) showed that the R squared of model 2 was 20.50% which means that 20.50% of the variance in stress is explained by mindfulness and civil status. The R squared change of model 2 was 20.28%, which means that mindfulness explains 20.28% of the variance in stress. This is a significant percentage because the p-value is 0.000, which is lower than 0.001. The B-value of neuroticism is -0.616, which means that if mindfulness increases with 1, measured on a scale from 0 to 5, stress decreases with 0.616, which is measured on a scale from 0 to 1. Because the B-value is a negative number, there is a negative effect. The standard error is 0.086, the t-statistic is -7.178 and the p-value is 0.000, which is lower than 0.001 which is, thus, very significant. Therefore the fourth hypotheses can be supported:

mindfulness has a negative effect on experienced stress at work.

To test hypotheses 5, neuroticism has a negative effect on mindfulness, a linear regression was used with the control variable civil status. The regression results (see appendix 10) showed that the R squared of model 2 was19.81%% which means that 19.81% of the variance in job satisfaction is explained by neuroticism and civil status. The R squared change of model 2 was 19.58%%, which means that neuroticism explains 19.58% of the variance in mindfulness. This is a significant percentage because the p-value is 0.000, which is lower than 0.001 The B-value of neuroticism is - 0.244, which means that if neuroticism increases with 1, measured on a scale from 0 to 5, mindfulness decreases with 0.244, which is measured on a scale from 0 to 5. Because the B-value is a negative number, there is a negative effect. The standard error is 0.035, the t-statistic is -7.032. and the p-value is 0.00, which is lower than 0.001 which is, thus, very significant. Therefore the fifth hypotheses can be supported: neuroticism has a negative effect on mindfulness.

To test hypotheses 6 , neuroticism has a negative effect on job satisfaction via mindfulness, the PROCESS macro (model 4) of Hayes (2018) was used. There was no significant negative indirect effect of neuroticism on job satisfaction through mindfulness, b = 0.16, se = 0.09, t = 1.82, p = 0.07, 95% CI = [-0.01, 0.33]. Thus, the sixth hypotheses cannot be supported: neuroticism has a negative effect on job satisfaction, but this effect is not mediated via mindfulness. The direct effects, as can be seen in the visualised model, are significant.

To test hypotheses 7, neuroticism has a positive effect on stress via mindfulness, the

PROCESS macro (model 4) of Hayes (2018) was used. There was a significant positive indirect effect of neuroticism on stress through mindfulness, b = 0.34, se = 0.09, t = -4.02, p = 0.00 , 95% CI = [- 0.51, -0.18]. Thus, the seventh hypotheses can be supported: neuroticism has a positive effect on stress via mindfulness. There is case of partial mediation, because there is a direct effect between

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neuroticism and experienced stress, and this effect is mediated by mindfulness. Full mediation would have meant that there would be no direct effect between neuroticism and experienced stress, but only a indirect effect, but this is not the case.

4.4: Results visualised

In figure 3 and 4, the results are visualised together.

Figure 2: The indirect effects of neuroticism on job satisfaction through mindfulness

Figure 3: The indirect effect of neuroticism on experienced stress at work through mindfulness

5. Discussion 5.1: Summary

The goal of this research was to answer the question: ‘Is the relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction and the relationship between neuroticism and perceived stress at work explained by mindfulness as a trait?’ To answer this question, seven hypothesis have been tested. The first one was that neuroticism has a negative effect on job satisfaction. A linear regression test supported this hypotheses. This is in line with research that already showed that neuroticism had a negative effect on job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002). This means that the more neurotic someone is, the less satisfied this person will be with their job.

The second hypothesis was that neuroticism has a positive effect on job stress. Enough statistical evidence was found with a linear regression to support this analysis. This is also in line with

Neuroticism

Mindfulness

Experienced stress at work

a = -0.24 p < 0.001 b = -0.34 p < 0.001

Direct effect c’= 0.34 p < 0.001

Indirect effect a * b = 0.84, 95% CI [0.04,0.14]

Neuroticism

Mindfulness

Job Satisfaction

a = -0.25 p < 0.001 b = 0.16 p < 0.05

Direct effect c’= -0.13 p < 0.001

Indirect effect a * b = -0.04, 95% CI [-0.09,0.01]

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previous research that stated that neuroticism had a positive effect on job stress (Wang et al., 2001).

This means that the more neurotic someone is, the more stress this person will have about their job.

The third hypothesis was that mindfulness has a positive effect on job satisfaction. This hypotheses was also tested with a linear regression test and this test supported the hypothesis. Previous research already showed that mindfulness had a positive effect on job satisfaction (Andrews et al., 2014). This means that the more mindful someone is, the more satisfied this person will be with their job.

The fourth hypothesis was that mindfulness has a negative effect on experienced stress at work. A linear regression test supported this hypothesis. This is in line with previous research that already showed that mindfulness had a negative effect on stress ((Nyklíček & Kuijpers, 2008). This means that people who are more mindful, will experience less stress at work.

The fifth hypothesis was that neuroticism has a negative effect on mindfulness. Also for this hypotheses, a linear regression test gave enough statistical evidence to support this hypotheses.

Previous research also stated that neuroticism had a negative effect on mindfulness (Giluk, 2009). This means that people who are highly associated with neuroticism, will be less mindful.

The sixth hypothesis was that neuroticism has a negative effect on job satisfaction via

mindfulness. This suggests that people who are neurotics, and thus less emotionally stable and having more anger, are less mindful. And because they are less mindful, meaning that they cannot distance themselves from a situation and are not able to be active in the present moment, they will take conflicts at work personal, and they cannot fully enjoy their jobs because they are not in the present moment, and thus, will rate their job overall as less satisfactory. This hypothesis was tested with PROCESS macro model 4 (Hayes, 2018). This was one of the main questions from this research, but this hypotheses was not supported. There was no previous research done on this hypotheses. Because there were outliers in the dataset, the data should be treated with caution, and this might be a reason why the second hypothesis was not significant. But, because the data set was not that large (N=207), it will violate the validity if we will delete more samples. The other direct hypotheses were, however, supported. Neurotics are less mindful and neurotics are less satisfied with their jobs. Furthermore, people who are mindful, are more satisfied with their jobs. Further research could investigate other variables which might mediate the relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction and stress, this will be further explained in the future research section.

Another explanation for the insignificant result of this hypothesis could be because this

research treated mindfulness as a trait, rather than a state or exercise. This research treated mindfulness as something rigid, as a trait which someone has or has not. But, mindfulness can also be seen as an exercise. It is researched that neuroticism is negatively correlated with frequency of meditation (Delmonte, 1980). This means that neurotics meditate less than non-neurotics. It could be the case that

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the fact that neurotics are less satisfied with their jobs is explained by neurotics meditating less than non-neurotics.

The seventh hypotheses was that neuroticism has a positive effect on stress via mindfulness.

This hypotheses was tested with PROCESS macro model 4 (Hayes, 2018). This was the other main question of this research. The results show that this hypotheses can be supported. This means that neurotics experience more stress at work, because they are not mindful. There was no previous research done on this hypotheses.

5.2: Limitations and future research

There are already suggestions made in the discussion about the sixth hypotheses. Because this research confirmed that neuroticism is in a positive relationship with stress and in a negative

relationship with job satisfaction and that neuroticism is in a negative relationship with mindfulness, and that mindfulness is positively correlated with job satisfaction and negatively correlated with stress, future research could research other variants with these variables. For instance, future research could do a pre-test post-test model with an intervention mindfulness training, and investigate if neurotics experience less stress and are more satisfied with their jobs if they are trained in being mindful. Thus, research should investigate if meditation practice and mindfulness training moderates the negative relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction and the positive relationship between

neuroticism and stress. This is plausible, because, when neurotics are trained to be mindful, they learn how to distance themselves from a situation and learn how to see things more objectively instead of seeing things as positive or negative, and this will reduce their anger, which neurotics abundantly have. Furthermore, neurotics will learn in the mindfulness training how to cope with stress. In this way, the neurotics who exercise mindfulness training will become less neurotic and therefore, will become more satisfied with their jobs and experience less stress at work.

Because this research did not found a mediation effect between neuroticism and stress, further research should investigate which variable does explain this positive relationship. Previous research already found that displacement behaviour – the activity of face touching and scratching- plays an important role in the relationship between neuroticism and stress (Mohiyeddini, Bauer & Semple, 2015). An interesting variable to investigate could be self-efficacy. It is already suggested that neuroticism is negatively correlated with self-efficacy (Schmitt, 2007). Furthermore, self-efficacy is positively correlated with stress (Saleh, Camart & Romo, 2017). This could mean that neurotics, who experience more anger and have more negative thoughts, are associated with lower self-efficacy, which means they don’t believe they have enough capacity to complete certain performances, and therefore they will not think they do their job right, and this might explain why they are less satisfied with their jobs.

As explained in the previous part, this research treated mindfulness only as a trait, which is a limitation because mindfulness can also be seen as an exercise. Further research could investigate

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mindfulness as an exercise mediates the negative relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction. Neurotics meditate less (Delmonte, 1980). Because they meditate less, they have less mindfulness skills as being in the present moment, being non-judgmental in a situation, and are less relaxed and have more anger in them, and this might explain why they are less satisfied with their jobs.

Another limitation of this research is that the sample consists of only 205 employees. This was due to time constraint. Future research could increase the sample size to increase validity. Another limitation is that this research used a survey in collaboration with other students who researched other variables, which caused the survey to have a long time to fill in. This may have caused the participants to be distracted, which could be bad for external validity. Future research could handle this problem by making shorter surveys.

5.3: External validity

This study investigated 205 employees between the age of 18-74, working in the range from 16 till 32 hours a week. Most of the participants were Dutch. This study used purposive sampling, we sent out the survey in groups which were in the target audience in terms of age and working hours.

This might have caused selection bias. A way to improve external validity is to use random sampling so that anyone could fill in the survey. Furthermore, because most of the participants were Dutch, it is not sure if the outcomes of this study can be generalized to employees of other countries. Also, the survey is done in the time of the Corona crisis. Maybe, because of the crisis, participants filled in having more stress than before or after the Corona crisis. Thus, external validity could have been improved by doing the survey multiple times in different periods of the year. A positive side of this survey was that the participants did not know what was going to be researched, so the Hawthorne effect was ruled out. Furthermore, there was a good representation of all age groups and gender. Thus, the results of this research can be generalized mostly to Dutch employees. But, if we want to

generalize the results of this study to other nationalities, a larger sample must be taken.

5.4: Implications

This research has also practical implications for companies. Because we know now that neuroticism has a positive effect on stress via mindfulness, the management of companies can help their employees better. They understand now why neurotics have stress about work, namely because they are not mindful, and thus, management can help neurotics with mindfulness programs. In this way neurotics will become more mindful and therefore will have less stress. Furthermore, because this research confirmed that neuroticism has a negative direct effect on job satisfaction, management can help neurotics more to be satisfied with their jobs. We know that neurotics are less satisfied with their jobs than non-neurotics, thus, the management could try to give more support to this group of the employees.

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5.5: Contributions

This study supported existing knowledge by showing that neuroticism has a negative effect on mindfulness and job satisfaction. Furthermore neuroticism has a positive effect on experienced stress at work. Mindfulness has a positive effect on job satisfaction and a negative effect on experienced stress at work. Research had already suggested this, but because of this research, there is even more evidence now. Furthermore, it was not research yet if the relationship between neuroticism and experienced stress was mediated by mindfulness. This research confirmed this hypotheses. Also, it was not researched yet if the relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction was mediated by mindfulness. This research did not find any statistical evidence for this hypotheses.

6. Conclusion

Previous research on the influence of mindfulness on job satisfaction and stress left unclear if there is a mediation effect of mindfulness in this relationship. Thus, this study researched if the relationship between the predictor variable neuroticism and the outcome variables job satisfaction and experienced stress at work was explained by the mediator mindfulness. The results showed that the relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction is not explained via mindfulness. Neurotics are less mindful and people associated with the trait mindfulness are more satisfied with their jobs, but there was, thus, no mediation effect. The relationship between neuroticism and stress is, however, is explained by mindfulness. Neurotics are less mindful, and because of this they perceive more stress.

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8. Appendix 1. Means and SD’s

2. correlation matrix

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3. assumption 1: linearity with a scatter plot

3. assumption 3: normality of residuals

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4. homoscedasticity plot

5. testing multicollinearity

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6. Testing hypotheses 1

7. Testing hypotheses 2

8. Testing hypotheses 3

9. Testing hypotheses 4

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10. Testing hypotheses 5

11. PROCCES mediation testing for the outcome variable job satiafaction

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12. PROCESS testing for the outcome variable stress

Figure

Updating...

References

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