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The active learning hypothesis of the job–demand–control model: an experimental examination

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The active learning hypothesis of the job–demand–control model [Karasek, R. A. 1979. “Job Demands, Job Decision Latitude, and Mental Strain: Implications for Job Redesign.” Administration Science Quarterly 24: 285–307] proposes positive effects of high job demands and high job control on performance. We conducted a 2 (demands: high vs. low) × 2 (control: high vs. low) experimental office workplace simulation to examine this hypothesis. Since performance during a work simulation is confounded by the boundaries of the demands and control manipulations (e.g. time limits), we used a post-test, in which participants continued working at their task, but without any manipulation of demands and control. This post-test allowed for examining active learning (transfer) effects in an unconfounded fashion. Our results revealed that high demands had a positive effect on quantitative performance, without affecting task accuracy. In contrast, high control resulted in a speed–accuracy tradeoff, that is participants in the high control conditions worked slower but with greater accuracy than participants in the low control conditions.
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Keywords: active learning hypothesis; job–demand–control model; speed–accuracy tradeoff; work performance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Social Psychology Unit, Institute of Psychology, University of Hildesheim, Marienburger Platz 22, D-37141,Hildesheim, Germany 2: Institute of Psychology, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

Publication date: January 2, 2014

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