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The differential role of mental rumination among industrial and knowledge workers

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The nature of work has been changing. It is becoming more and more uncertain, complex, cognitively demanding, disperse in space and in time, and diverse for the people involved. It requires diffuse decision making and responsibility. Knowledge and creative work, instead of industrial, currently occupies the majority of workforce. A recent NIOSH report (2002) claims that the changing nature of work asks for new research, tools and methods for evaluating the impact of its transformations on workers' health and safety. Following this claim, the current paper investigates the process of recovery from fatigue. Since it is known that the quality of recovery may be highly impoverished by the presence of persisting and pervasive mental activity, namely, by mental rumination, the investigation focuses on the possible differential characteristics of rumination among industrial and knowledge workers. The results from a field study shows evidence that industrial and knowledge workers are differentially affected by rumination. It is suggested that rumination can be a promising early indicator of stress in knowledge occupations.
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Keywords: Knowledge work; Routine work; Rumination; Stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Social Sciences, University of Milano, Milano, Italy 2: Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK 3: Deptartment INDACO, Politecnico of Milano, Milano, Italy

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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