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An experimental study of the impact of psychological capital on performance, engagement, and the contagion effect

Timothy D Hodges, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Psychological Capital, or PsyCap, is a core construct consisting of the positive psychological resources of efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Previous research has consistently linked PsyCap to workplace outcomes including employee attitudes, behaviors, and performance. Further research has explored the ways in which PsyCap can be developed through relatively brief workplace interventions. The present study focuses on PsyCap development and the relationship to employee engagement and performance. In an experimental design with random assignment of subjects to control group (n = 52 managers and 152 associates) and treatment group (n = 58 managers and 239 employees), a field sample of managers in a financial services organization participated in a PsyCap micro-intervention. Although the financial services industry is in the midst of historical challenges, employees at the field site were remarkably positive throughout the study. High scores at the time of the pre-test indicate the possibility of a ceiling effect which may limit the significance of the differences in groups. Mean score differences between pre-test and post-test for the treatment group were generally in the hypothesized directions. Results indicate initial evidence supporting the presence of a contagion effect where employees reporting to the managers participating in the PsyCap intervention experienced an increase in their own PsyCap levels over a six-week period. Post-hoc analyses found significant correlations between PsyCap, employee engagement, and performance. The article concludes with a discussion of several practical implications and directions for future research.^

Subject Area

Business Administration, General|Business Administration, Management|Psychology, General

Recommended Citation

Hodges, Timothy D, "An experimental study of the impact of psychological capital on performance, engagement, and the contagion effect" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3398191.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3398191

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