The role of core affect dynamics on work task engagement

Haire, J 2018, The role of core affect dynamics on work task engagement, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Management, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title The role of core affect dynamics on work task engagement
Author(s) Haire, J
Year 2018
Abstract Work task engagement is an essential precursor to task outcomes and a contributor to
overall performance during employment. Practitioners and researchers in psychology (specifically
education) and information sciences have devoted attention to work task engagement; however,
within the organizational science discipline, the attention has been scant. Researchers have focused
attention on the broader and longer-duration constructions of work engagement and job
engagement as an enduring, static phenomenon. However, recently, investigators in organizational
science have reaffirmed work and job engagement as dynamic constructs and the result of a
principal contribution by work task engagement. Little research exists on the mechanics of this
dynamism. Thus, this thesis aims to contribute to our understanding of the mechanics of work task
engagement dynamism in order to understand the ebbs and flows in in relation to the broader, more
enduring constructions.

A component of emotions, moods, anxiety, stress, identified as core affect, task feedback,
and task challenge (difficulty) are related to work task engagement. These variables are identified
in the literature as influential in work task engagement, while core affect, task feedback, and task
challenge are also prone to ebbs and flows. This thesis proposed six hypotheses associating these
constructs. A quasi-experiment tested this thesis, with 314 participants, who were asked to perform
an on-line computer mediated task consisting of a series of activities, one of which required
watching a randomly assigned brief affect evocative video clip. The participants reported their
core affect states and the system provided feedback at appropriate stages. During the last activity,
this feedback was a quantitative score.

The findings supported all hypotheses. That is, positively increasing activation and
positively increasing hedonic tone (positively increasing core affect) led to increasing work task
engagement. Task feedback was confirmed as associated with work task engagement, but through
mediation by activation and hedonic tone (core affect). Task challenge was positively associated
with work task engagement. Importantly, task challenge was negatively associated with task
feedback. As challenge increased, feedback became more negative. This situation created a
dampening effect. As task challenge increased, work task engagement increased; however, offset
against this direct challenge increase was the greater likelihood of negative feedback, which
negatively affected increased activation and hedonic tone (core affect), thereby reducing work task

The implications of this study for organizational science research on engagement in the
workplace include identification of work engagement and job engagement as dynamic constructs
under the influence of the dynamism of work task engagement. Researchers in the future should
be cognizant that engagement models need to be developed at the work, job and task level that
better encompass this dynamism. In addition, a result of affective changes within employees while
engaging in work tasks, management, teachers, and software developers must take care in
delivering feedback and in the level of challenge they design into tasks. For example, attempting
to improve work task engagement by increasing the task challenge could be offset by the negative
influence of poorer performance and hence less positive feedback on activation and hedonic tone.
In turn, this negative influence on activation and hedonic tone leads to less work task engagement.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Management
Subjects Human Resources Management
Organisational Behaviour
Keyword(s) Core affect
Work Task Engagement
Task Challenge
Hedonic Tone Activation
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Created: Fri, 11 May 2018, 09:05:23 EST by Denise Paciocco
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