Advancing the Effort-Reward Imbalance Model: Economic rewards influence on teachers’ mental health
YANG Ruijuan1,2; YOU Xuqun1
(1 School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University; Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Behavior and Cognitive Neuroscience, Xi’an 710062) (2 College of Economics and Business Management, Xi′an Shiyou University, Xi’an 710065)
Abstract： In many countries over the past two decades, workplace stress has increased remarkably. Teaching is an example of a highly stressful occupation due to the diverse requirements of the job: teachers have always been subject to high job-related stress and tend to suffer from stress-related psychosomatic problems at unusually high rates. The purpose of this study is to explore how economic rewards influence on teachers’ mental health. This article uses the interdisciplinary perspective of psychology and economics to test the Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) model. This study consists of a cross-temporal meta-analysis that examines the changes of Chinese teachers’ scores on the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90) from 1995 to 2013. Samples of Chinese teachers (N = 48712) from one hundred and thirteen different past studies were included in this study’s data. The means and SDs of the nine different SCL-90 dimensions were calculated for each of the 19 years under examination, and were compared using Excel2010 and SPSS19.0. Annual average teacher salaries were gathered from the China Statistical Yearbook. Results showed that: (1) Teachers’ mental health decreased from 1995 to 2009 and improved from 2009 to 2013. Although though some studies suggested that there were significant differences in mental health between genders, our composite conclusions showed that there was no significant difference between male and female teachers (N = 19919, p = 0.596). Kindergarten teachers and college professors tended to have the best mental health, whereas primary school, middle school, and special education teachers tended to have the worst mental health. Vocational middle school teachers scored between these two groups (N = 32260). (2) Economic rewards play an important role in influencing teachers’ mental health over time. A one-way causal relationship was observed between teachers’ compensation and psychological factors. The result show that interpersonal sensitivity, anxiety, hostility, and psychoticism were all influenced by teachers’ compensation and a lag period for such influences was one year. Obsessive neurosis, paranoid psychosis, and depression were also influenced by teachers’ compensation, with a lag period of three years. The present study represents the first time that economic methodology has been combined with psychological research to test the ERI model. Using Granger Causality to investigate the link between teacher salary and changes in SCL-90 scores, the results clearly indicate that economic rewards influence teachers’ mental health. This study also represents the first recent use of a large sample of members from one profession to test the ERI. Possible contributions to the field of Psychological Economics are discussed in the conclusion.