Work Stress and Problem Alcohol Behavior: A Test of the Spillover Model

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Journal of Organizational Behavior


Sociology & Anthropology


Although previous research has found weak support for the model of stressful work ‘spilling over’ to negative coping responses during nonwork hours, we argue that a variety of conceptual and methodological problems may partially explain the weak and inconsistent findings. Two important shortcomings are inadequately specified models and a failure to consider nonescapist responses to job-related stress. We therefore propose that there may be escapist (i.e. increased drinking, working through job dissatisfaction for those who believe that alcohol consumption is an effective means to reduce stress) and nonescapist (i.e. decreased drinking for those who are dissatisfied with their jobs but do not believe alcohol is an effective coping strategy) responses to work stress. These hypotheses were tested on a sample of 972 production workers in the Pacific northwest. Results show moderate support for the existence of both escapist and nonescapist responses to job-related stresses.