Managing My Shame: Examining the Effects of Parental Identity Threat and Emotional Stability on Work Productivity and Investment in Parenting

Rebecca L. Greenbaum*, Yingli Deng, Marcus M. Butts, Cynthia S. Wang, Alexis N. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We identify parental identity threat as a blended work–family experience (i.e., when the family domain becomes a salient aspect of the work domain) that prompts working parents to attend to their parenting identities while at work. By integrating theoretical arguments related to role identities, self-conscious emotions, and identity maintenance, we propose that parental identity threat provokes working parents’ shame, which then results in disparate cross-domain outcomes in the form of reduced work productivity and enhanced investment in parenting. We further explain that emotional stability serves as a first-stage moderator of the proposed mediated relationships. Specifically, working parents with higher (vs. lower) emotional stability respond to parental identity threat with weaker shame reactions that then lessen the effects onto work productivity and investment in parenting. We tested our predictions across three studies: an experiment, a multisource field study involving working parent–spouse dyads, and a time-lagged experience sampling study across 15 days also using working parent–spouse dyads. Altogether, our findings generally support our predictions. Theoretical and practical implications and future direction are discussed

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • emotional stability
  • identity threat
  • parenting
  • shame
  • work–family blending

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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