Home » News » Professional Authority Has Downside

Professional Authority Has Downside

Professional Authority Has Downside Life at the top of the work ladder can bring monetary awards and prestige but new research shows people in positions of power at work are more likely to experience certain psychological and physical problems.

University of Toronto researchers studied data from a national survey of 1,800 American workers in different occupations and sectors. Their work reveals previously undocumented evidence about the up- and downsides of having authority in the workplace.

People with job authority are defined as those who direct or manage the work of others, have control over others, pay, and can hire or fire others.

Sociology professor Scott Schieman and PhD student Sarah Reid found people with more authority at work experience certain benefits that can contribute to better health. They tend to earn greater pay and have jobs that involve more problem-solving tasks, making their work more interesting and engaging.

“Unfortunately, there are also downsides to job authority that undermine or offset the upsides of having power at work,” says Schieman. “In most cases, the health costs negate the benefits.”

People with job authority report significantly higher levels of interpersonal conflict with others, says Schieman. They’re also more likely to encounter work-to-home interference, where stressors at work spill over into non-work domains like family and leisure time. These factors increase the risk for psychological distress, anger and poor health.

“Power at work does have drawbacks, and the negative impact on personal health – both emotional and physical – is one of them,” says Schieman, lead author on the study.

These findings help explain a lingering paradox in sociological research about job stress: Higher status positions have attributes that should contribute to less stress and better health, but people with authority at work don’t seem to have better health. This study sheds new light on the underlying dynamics.

Source: University of Toronto

Professional Authority Has Downside

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Professional Authority Has Downside. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/10/20/professional-authority-has-downside/9052.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.