Work-family conflict and self-discrepant time allocation at work

Patricia C. Dahm, Theresa M Glomb, Colleen F Manchester, Sophie Leroy

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44 Scopus citations


We examine the relationships between work-to-family conflict, time allocation across work activities, and the outcomes of work satisfaction, well-being, and salary in the context of self-regulation and self-discrepancy theories. We posit work-to-family conflict is associated with self-discrepant time allocation such that employees with higher levels of work-to-family conflict are likely to allocate less time than preferred to work activities that require greater self-regulatory resources (e.g., tasks that are complex, or those with longer term goals that delay rewards and closure) and allocate more time than preferred to activities that demand fewer self-regulatory resources or are replenishing (e.g., those that provide closure or are prosocial). We suggest this self-discrepant time allocation (actual vs. preferred time allocation) is one mechanism by which work-to-family conflict leads to negative employee consequences (Allen, Herst, Bruck, & Sutton, 2000; Mesmer-Magnus & Viswesvaran, 2005). Using polynomial regression and response surface methodology, we find that discrepancies between actual and preferred time allocations to work activities negatively relate to work satisfaction, psychological well-being, and physical well-being. Self-discrepant time allocation mediates the relationship between work-to-family conflict and work satisfaction and well-being, while actual time allocation (rather than the discrepancy) mediates the relationship between work-to-family conflict and salary. We find that women are more likely than men to report self-discrepant time allocations as work-to-family conflict increases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-792
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Psychological Association.


  • Self-discrepancy
  • Self-regulation
  • Work-family conflict


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