Workaholism: real thing, or armchair psychology? Well, it probably was armchair psychology at one point, but researchers in Norway have attempted to quantify it—and surprise!—it’s common and growing.
So, how do you figure out if you’re a workaholic? A study published in PLOS One took a page out of common factors in other additions (like mood, relapse, withdrawal, tolerance, etc.) and developed the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, which I’ll quote from. There are seven criteria:
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work.
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
Did you say something like “yes”, “often”, or “always” to four or more of these statements? Congratulations, you’re a workaholic.
So, scale in hand, researchers set out to measure levels of workaholism in their native Norway. They surveyed 2,160 workers aged 18-70, who they randomly drew from a central employee registry in Norway. 1,124 responded, which led researchers to conclude that a total of 8.3% of all Norwegians are workaholics. Genders are equally represented, and similarly martial status, education level, and full vs. part time employment seem to have no bearing on whether one is a workaholic.
However, young people are more likely to be workaholics than old people. Moreover, workaholics tend to score higher on three major personality traits: agreeableness, neuroticism, and inventive/curious (more on the big five personality traits here).