Does Psychological Detachment Benefit Job Seekers? A Two Study Weekly Investigation

Rebecca L. MacGowan, Allison S. Gabriel, Serge P. da MottaVeiga, Nitya Chawla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


On a weekly basis, job seekers need to exert effort to successfully navigate their search. Yet, despite the notion that job seeking is likely depleting, there has been little research and discussion to date surrounding whether taking time to recover from job seeking can be restorative and helpful for job seekers. Applying theory from the effort-recovery model (Meijman & Mulder, 1998) and the stressordetachment model (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015) to the job search context, we highlight the self-regulatory and job search-related benefits associated with psychologically detaching from the job search each week. Specifically, we theorize that weekly psychological detachment from the job search (at t) helps job seekers feel recovered (at t) and, in turn, more vigorous (at t + 1), prompting subsequent job search effort (at t + 1); further, weekly job search effort is expected to engender an increase in subsequent interviews (at t + 2).We also explore the cross-level moderating effect of implicit theories of depletion, considering whether the beneficial impact of weekly psychological detachment is contingent on how depleting job seekers perceive the search process to be. We tested our model with two weekly experience sampling studies of over 200 new labor market entrants. Across both studies, we found considerable support for our model, suggesting that taking time to psychologically detach from the job search can help job seekers maintain their well-being and obtain job search success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2319-2333
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 27 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A previous version of this manuscript was presented at the 79th Annual Conference of the Academy of Management in Boston, MA, in 2019. We wish to thank Stephen W. Gilliland, Nathan P. Podsakoff, and the entire Department of Management and Organizations at the University of Arizona for their feedback and support of this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Psychological Association


  • Job search
  • Psychological detachment
  • Recovery
  • Self-regulation
  • Weekly study

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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