Workaholic: perfect, awful or doesn’t matter?

Marina Ivanovna Koshenova


Koshenova M.I. Workaholic: perfect, awful or doesn’t matter? // Psychological science and practice: State of the Art. Collected papers / Ed. Kostrigin A.A. Chicago, 2017. P. 107-112.

In the last decade the growth of the number of researches on addictology rises in direct ratio to the growth of the number the addictive persons and to the expansion of range the addictive forms of behavior in modern world. The workaholic addiction (in other words workaholism) doesn't make an exception; it is obvious that recently it attracts keen interest of researchers (Barabanschikova, Klimov, 2015; Lukyanov, Shcheglova, Balashov, 2012; Belobrykina, 2015). Nevertheless, it isn't possible to define the content of this type of dependence fully yet, partly because a man working hard is a socially approved image, partly because it isn't always easy to differentiate “love for work” compelled by expense of a large amount of time to provide survival or execution of social obligations from workaholism as "fixing on activity". In this regard the request for the empirical facts allowing to find out significant markers of the phenomenon itself is urgent.

Workaholism, as well as any other addiction, is the escape from reality by changing the mental state which in this case is reached by fixing on work. The reasons of workaholism development have to include as the general, peculiar to all types of addictions, as specific, typical only for this type, features. We may assume that, a workaholic as well as other addicts is characterized by the high level of anxiety, inadequate self-assessment, deformed or immature personality identity and disfunctionality in interpersonal relationships. At the same time the analysis of research works on workaholism suggests existence of high level of achievement motivation and specific social-psychological goals in the sphere of motivation and need: orientation toward results, work, power and money at persons fixed on work activity.

At the first investigation phase 227 people aged from 41 up to 49 years were diagnosed. On the basis of the data obtained according to Killindzher's test for identification of a workaholism and  E.Rogov's technique of "Defining of a workaholic" two conventional groups for comparison were formed: the first group consisted of 60 persons  with the expressed workaholic addiction, the second – 60 persons without signs of it (groups are approximately balanced on sex and age). Complex of personal techniques was used to test both groups. Comparison of these two groups (Mann-Whitney's U-criterion was used) allowed to reveal a number of authentically significant distinctions. So, the results received by O.F.Potyomkina's technique "Diagnostics of social psychological sets of personality in the sphere of  motivation and need" show that persons with a workaholic addiction are more inclined in their working activity to be guided by the process that is procedural component of activity, but not by the final result. Reliable distinctions on the scale "orientation toward work" show that it is typical for workaholics use almost all the time to make something, without feeling sorry for the days off or a holiday; work activity brings them more joys and pleasures, than some other activities. In this group more reliable and higher results are found according to the scale "orientation toward altruism ", it is frequent to the detriment of itself that deserves the respect. It is considered that altruism – the most valuable public motivation existence of which distinguishes the mature person. Let’s add that we didn't manage to find out reliable distinctions in the following criteria "orientation toward power" and "orientation toward money" between these two compared selections that, in our opinion, also demonstrate that the workaholic doesn't consider the sphere of work as "battlefield" for possession of something. With this conclusion the absence of distinctions between two groups of comparison quite correlates on the level of claims (Shvartslander's Scale).

In structure of the motives of personality included into the structure of motivation of an affiliation at workaholics the aspiration to acceptance prevails (a technique "Motivation of affiliation" of A. Mekhrabian in M.Sh.Magomed-Eminov's modification), respectively, there are no obstacles of satisfaction of the need to be in the company of other people.

At first sight the portrait, "written by large dabs", inspires optimism, but a number of essential moments introduce negative amendments in the profile of "being married to the job". To begin with the fact that orientation to procedural characteristics of work often doesn't give the chance even to achieve result but to see, and therefore, to feel satisfaction from achieved results – any top is not sufficient. Quite naturally it was revealed that easily arising concern, feeling of anxiety is peculiar to workaholics ("Taylor’s scale of anxiety" in V. G. Norakidze's adaptation). High anxiety can be caused both by fear of inactive situations, and also by the need for a constant external irritant and for a constant positive assessment of their activity as necessary confirmation of the solvency. These results are quite coordinated with lower self-assessment revealed by S. A. Budassi's technique.

Person at a stage of maturity (age of our examinees is 41-49) should be characterized by mature identity with definiteness of valuable orientations and authorities, temporary perspective and a variety of role behavior, and also by self-confidence; however the workaholic personality is characterised by the broken identity (distinctions on scales "the moratorium of identity", "a premature stop", "identity diffusion" ("The status of identity" by Marsia in G. and R. Aminev's modification). The accounting of average values on the scales defining the ways of achievement of identity revealed that workaholics at lesser extent can make decisions of their own personality, but great susceptibility is characteristic of the influences of external circumstances (KKI scale).

Thus, the psychological profile of the personality with a workaholic addiction is characterised by orientation to process, high anxiety, the underestimated self-assessment, and absence of ability to appreciate their own achievements, rather essential dependence on other people approval, more problematic than the negative personal identity connected with absence of feeling of self-sufficiency. The workaholic addiction in fact is a form of psychological protection for the personality with the broken identity. All mentioned above means definitely that the workaholic is quite convenient for the authorities and colleagues, at least because he tries to come to the rescue and meet other people’s expectations, even who treats him with absolute indifference. And he has quite sufficient destructive potential for himself, at least, because he is not really able to accept and appreciate himself and therefore doesn't dare to have a rest even at an exhaustion of forces.

Полный текст:



Barabanshchikova O. V., Klimov O. A. Ideas of an involvement into work and workaholism in modern psychological researches//the National psychological magazine. 2015. No. 1 (17). Page 51-60.

Lukyanov O. V., Shcheglova E. A., Balashov M. Yu. Issledovaniye's (Lasso) of risk of development of psychological dependence on work (workaholism) in modern Russia//the Bulletin of the Tomsk state university. 2012. No. 363. Page 183-187.

Belobrykina O. A. Typology of motives and methods of their diagnostics in modern psychology of motivation // Psychology: last, real, future: Materials of the international scientific and practical conference devoted to the 85 anniversary of the doctor of psychological sciences, honorary professor of NGPU V. G. Leontyev (on December 25-28, 2014) / ed. O. A. Belobrykina, N. Ya. Bolshunova. Novosibirsk: NGPU, 2015. P. 85-99.


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(c) 2017 Marina Ivanovna Koshenova