New Scale Developed for Measuring Addiction to Work

Posted on March 22nd, 2010

Have you ever been called a workaholic? It’s not just a term to describe people who seem to work too much—it’s an actual disorder. In Spain, 12% of working people suffer from addiction to work, and 8 percent of the working population works more than 12 hours per day.

Researchers from the Jaume I University have developed a new scale for measuring addiction to work, known as DUWAS (Dutch Work Addiction Scale).

Mario Del Líbano, lead author of the paper and a researcher at the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences of the Jaume I University in Castellón de la Plana, says that addiction to work is primarily characterized by working excessively and compulsively.

Published in the Spanish journal Psicothema, the study not only confirms the two main factors in work addiction, but also relates the results with perceived health and happiness, which underscores the negative features of work addiction in Spain.

Del Líbano explained that if someone works compulsively to reduce anxiety and the feelings of guilt they experience when not working, in addition to working excessively, they could be suffering from work addiction.

The prevalence of work addiction around the world varies from study to study. In Japan, about 20 percent of people are said to suffer from work addiction; in Spain, the numbers are between 11.3 and 12 percent, according to studies by Sánchez Pardo, Navarro Botella and Valderrama Zurián’s in 2004, and Del Líbano’s group in 2006.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), eight percent of those who work in Spain spend more than 12 hours a day working. Spending more than 50 hours working per week can be a symptom of addiction.

Those who are addicted to work tend to display an extreme devotion to work, feel a compulsion to work, relate their self-esteem to their work, and ignore family and other obligations in favor of work. Some people can become addicted to working due to financial or family pressures, fear of demanding bosses, feeling like they need to achieve a certain level of success, and lack of personal affection.

Some people begin abusing illicit or prescription drugs such as stimulants to help them stay awake so they can work longer, which can lead to another type of addiction.

Source: Science Daily, New Scale for Measuring Addiction to Work, March 25, 2010.

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