The benefits of positivity in sustaining psychophysical health in a sample of unemployed workers


  • A. Theodorou
  • G. Alessandri
  • C. Violani


Background. Several studies demonstrated that unemployment is related to a deterioration of physical and psychological health (McKee-Ryan, et al., 2005; Wanberg, 2012). However, few studies focused on the personality factors that could sustain psychophysical health in unemployed workers. This study examines the role of positivity (Caprara et al., 2009) in supporting mental and physical health in a sample of unemployed workers, reducing the effects of perceived economic stress and promoting health behaviours. Methods. Participants were 101 unemployed workers (51.5% female), aged 35 to 45, selected at a hiring hall in Rome, Italy, basing on the ILO criteria for unemployment. Measures of positivity, mental and physical health, perceived economic stress, and health behaviours were collected through a structured interview using a cross-sectional design. Data were analyzed through Structural Equation Modelling. Findings. Hypotheses were only partially confirmed by the data. Positivity was positively associated with mental health in consequence of a reduction of the perceived economic stress and the adoption of health behaviours, whereas it was positively related with physical health as a result of adherence to health behaviours. No significant relation was found between positivity and physical health through perceived economic stress. The model fit was good (χ2(93) = 112.04, p = .09, CFI = .97, TLI = .92, RMSEA = .045). Discussion. Findings offer important directions for health professionals, especially positivity demonstrated to be an important personal characteristic to promote in order to sustain unemployed workers’ psychophysical health.





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