Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Tammy D. Allen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael T. Braun, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith B. Bryant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul E. Spector, Ph.D.


work-family conflict, transition, strain, time, allostatic load


Given rising work and family demands in our society for both men and women, the experience of work-family conflict is commonplace. Work-family conflict occurs when the demands of work or family make it difficult to meet the demands of the alternate domain. A sizeable body of research has established work-family conflict and its nomological network. Despite decades of research, we have yet to form a precise understanding of when work-family conflicts occur and what happens when a conflict arises. The current research addresses these questions using an experience sampling, episodic approach. Two primary research questions are addressed. First, I used border and boundary theory to identify when work-family conflict episodes are likely to occur. Second, I used stressor-strain and allostatic load theories to examine what happens with regard to psychological, physiological, and behavioral strain following an episodic work-family conflict over time. The results suggest work-family conflict occurs when individuals transition in between work and family domains. Further, family-to-work conflict tends to occur in the morning, while work-to-family conflict tends to occur in the afternoon. Fatigue showed significant reactivity at the time of a family-to-work conflict and recovered in the following time point. Unhealthy eating also showed a sleeper pattern, such that unhealthy eating increased at the end of the day, following a work-to-family conflict. Unexpectedly, fatigue decreased at the time of a family-to-work conflict, indicating family-to-work conflict may be a restorative, rather than taxing. Post-hoc analyses showed some evidence that work-to-family conflict accumulation is associated with increased strain over the course of three days. Again, results suggest family-to-work conflict accumulation may reduce, rather than increase, strain. Implications for the theoretical relationship between work-family conflict and strain, as well as border/boundary theory are discussed. In addition, practical implications for flexible work initiatives and episodic research design are considered.

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Psychology Commons