College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Exploring the Nomological Net of Micro-Breaks from a Cross-Level Perspective

Qikun Niu

Major Professor: Lois E Tetrick, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Jose Cortina, Lauren Kuykendall

Robinson Hall B, #203
November 21, 2016, 08:00 AM to 10:00 AM


The concept of micro-breaks (i.e., short and informal breaks employees take in the workplace) has received increasing attention from occupational health researchers in recent years. However, research to date has dominantly focused on the outcomes of taking micro-breaks, leaving the antecedents of micro-breaks unexplored. Thus, the current study contributes to the micro-breaks and recovery literature from three perspectives. First, antecedents of micro-breaks are for the first time introduced and examined. Specifically, I conceptualize seven antecedents and investigate their relationships with micro-break quantity. The antecedents include both personal factors (i.e., the attitude toward micro-breaks and need for recovery) and contextual factors (i.e., supervisor norms, coworker norms, management support, work-break autonomy, perceptions of coworker micro-breaks). Second, for the first time in the literature the nomological network of micro-breaks (i.e., micro-break quantity) is examined from both the between-person level and the within-person level. Last but not least, I conceptualize and suggest that micro-break quality could serve as a boundary condition for the relationship between micro-break quantity and employee well-being, which adds value to the literature studying the outcome of micro-breaks. In the results, most of the hypotheses were supported. Specifically, the attitude toward micro-breaks, supervisor norms, coworker norms, management support, and work-break autonomy were associated with micro-break quantity at the between-person level, and need for recovery was associated with micro-break quantity at the within-person level. On the outcome side, micro-break quantity was related to employee vitality at both the between-person level and the within-person level. However, the moderation effect of micro-break quality was found in neither the between-person level nor the within-person level. The theoretical and practical implications of the current study were discussed in detail.

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