New Psychological Tool Measures Work AddictionA global perception of Americans is that we work too long and too hard. And, the stereotype is difficult to ignore as workweeks expand and the pace of work speeds up.

Now, a new instrument developed by researchers from Norway and the United Kingdom will help us know if we are addicted to work.

The tool, called The Bergen Work Addiction Scale, is based on core elements of addiction that are recognized as diagnostic criteria for several addictions.

Some people seem to be driven to work excessively and compulsively. These are denoted as work addicts — or workaholics. Work addictions are a global pandemic, a result of a worldwide economy and globalization, new technology, and blurred boundaries between work and private life, said University of Bergen’s Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Ph.D.

A number of studies show that work addiction has been associated with insomnia, health problems, burnout and stress as well as creating conflict between work and family life, Andreassen said.

Her team developed the new first-of-its-kind instrument; the Bergen Work Addiction Scale is presented in an article in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.

By testing themselves with the scale, people can find out their degree of work addiction: non-addicted, mildly addicted or workaholic, Andreassen said.

12,135 Norwegian employees from 25 different industries participated in the development of the Bergen Work Addiction Scale. The scale was administrated to two cross-occupational samples. The scale reflects the seven core elements of addiction: Salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, relapse and problems.

The results show the scale as reliably differentiating between workaholics and non-workaholics.

Researchers believe the scale may add value to work addiction research and practice, particularly when it comes to facilitating treatment and estimating prevalence of work addiction in the general population worldwide.

The Bergen Work Addiction Scale uses seven basic criteria to identify work addiction, where all items are scored on the following scale: (1) Never, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Always:

  • You think of how you can free up more time to work;
  • You spend much more time working than initially intended;
  • You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression;
  • You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them;
  • You become stressed if you are prohibited from working;
  • You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work;
  • You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.

Andreassen’s study shows that scoring of “often” or “always” on at least four of the seven items may suggest that you are a workaholic.

Source: The University of Bergen