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Burnout : the effect of Jungian type online

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"universal" (i.e., not culturally-bound or situationally-bound), and were
chosen by Jung for precisely that quality, i.e., "a form of psychic activity
that remains theoretically the same under varying circumstances" (Jung 1971,
p. 547). The extraversion and introversion attitudes are often considered,
and were by Jung, to be in some sense "innate" and rarely changed. The
functions are considered to be basic psychic functions in the same way that
digestion and breathing are basic physiological functions. They are,
theoretically, independent of contingent events. Support for the idea that
one's most developed attitude and functions change little even under extreme
circumstances is provided by McCaulley (1982, p. 318). As far as the
Cranfield MBA is concerned Chilmeran (1981) found that from the beginning to
the end of the MBA, there was no significant change in either the preference
or the strength of that preference (with the exception of the
Judging- Perceiving axis). In any event, the MBTI was administered to the
students in November 1981, whilst the burnout data were collected in
July-August 1982. There is, therefore, sufficient support for the assumption
that Jungian type remained unchanged during this period, and that scores on
the MBTI could not be seen as a product of the burnout experience but,
instead, were either predispositional or, at least, antecedent.

Gann's study (1979) using Loevinger's ego-development scale and an
Adjective check list, provided a personality profile with dimensions described
as being "associated" with the burnout dimensions. These were, however.

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interpreted as meaning that lower ego-level subjects would be more prone to
burnout. Further, Maslach uses Gann's results to describe a burnout-prone
individual, i.e "a portrait of the provider who is almost predestined for
problems, emerges from these research results" (Maslach, 1982, p. 62). To
illustrate: a burnout-prone individual based on Gann's results, is one who
is, amongst other things, " fearful of involvement" . However, in describing
how burnout occurs, Maslach also states "a person gets overly involved , over
extends him or herself ... (the) response to this situation (and thus one aspect
of burnout) is emotional exhaustion. . .the result being that individuals detach
themselves psychologically from any meaningful involvement with others"
(Maslach 1982, p. 3) (my emphasis). Thus, there is some question whether the
personality indicators used in Gann's study are not simply mapping
characteristics of the individual which are an outcome of the burnout
experience and, hence, cannot be used to illustrate the role of personality
factors in the burnout process. A further illustration is Maslach' s
description of the burnout-prone individual, again based on Gann's study,
which depicts such an individual as one likely to treat clients in
"depersonalized and derogatory ways". Further, the individual "does not feel
a sense of personal accomplishment and effectiveness" (Maslach 1982, p. 63).
These two, depersonalization and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment
are, however, two of the defining dimensions of burnout which follow on from
emotional exhaustion. Yet they are here being used to describe personality
factors which precede the burnout experience. Not only are the results of
this difficult to interpret but, on balance, such personality profiles cannot
be seen as indicating characteristics which are brought to burnout. The MBTI
can be assumed to have mapped such characteristics.

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(b) Research Design
(1) (a) The Sample

The sample chosen was the 1981/1982 intake of MBA students at Cranfield
School of Management, England. The MBA is an intensive twelve-month one (held
in four terms of eleven weeks interspersed with holidays of a fortnight's
duration) . It attempts to cover 80% of the two-year Harvard MBA and is
closely modeled on the latter system, and is renowned, and advertised, to be a
demanding if not gruelling experience. This is due to the long and
concentrated study required as well as intensive interaction with others.
Some of the responses to a question asking for a description of the MBA with
three words, illustrate the typical felt experience of my sample: "an assault
course;" "a workaholic's dream"; "bloody hard work"; "hell, enjoyable,
rewarding"; "intensive, pressurized, grinding"; "compression of experience";
"expensive, time-consuming, purgatory"; "gruelling, self-revealing";
"demanding, a slog, useful". I had completed the MBA in the previous year and
had observed persons I would describe as "burnt out", if not at the point of
collapse, and expected that the situation the year after would allow, if not
Insist on, developing some burnout victims for me to study.

The programme is structured so that everyone must take the same courses,
with no exceptions, in the first half of the year (September to March). In
the second half of the year a little more variation is allowed through a
mixture of compulsory and elective courses. To a large extent, then, the
objective situation as far as the organization and the job are concerned, is
the same for each student. Two sources of variation do occur, however.
First, the intake is divided into three "streams" which exist as that stream
for each of the first two terms and, secondly, individuals are placed into

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study groups of six members. The latter Is probably the more important for
the study group is a "survival kit" with which, by allocating assignments, one
endures the MBA. The performance and socio-emotional atmosphere of the study
groups do vary although the demands and requirements on each group are the

One other factor needs to be mentioned. This concerns the "totality" of
the MBA experience for the individual. This is not due solely to the long
hours of study and preparation, a lot of which is done in interaction with
others, but also to the nature of the Cranfield environment. The business
school is located within the Cranfield Institute of Technology (although there
is very little interaction with the rest of the Institute). The small village
nearest to the campus is three miles away; the nearest city nine miles away.
The majority of students have to shift temporarily to the area for the year
and most of these reside in halls or houses on campus. As a result they not
only work closely together but, for the most part, also live closely
together. Given the demands of the MBA, there is also very little time to get
away from that environment even in the weekends, particularly in the first two

The ages of the sample ranged from 25 to 46, with an average of 31
years. Most of the sample were single (55%) and most had no children (65%).
A third were married, the remainder were either divorced/separated or in a
"living-with" relationship. The majority were men (86), with only 10 women.
This was similar to the proportion in the whole intake. Average year's work
experience was 11 years, and for the majority (72%) this had consisted of some
supervisory or managerial experience. (Over half had had at least nine
subordinates in their previous position) .

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(il) Data Collection

The main period of data collection was in July /August 1982, and occurred
in two stages. The first stage consisted of administration of a 210 item
questionnaire which was given out to all 139 MBA's, through the school's usual
"pigeon-hole" system of distributing material. The questionnaire was
accompanied by a letter from me indicating that the research was about stress
(they were not told that the research was on burnout), and seeking their
cooperation in filling out the questionnaire. Space was provided to indicate
willingness to be interviewed. A letter from one of the Cranfield faculty
authorizing the study as being associated with the Organizational Behavior
Group and encouraging responses, also accompanied the questionnaire. It was
emphasised that the responses to the questionnaire would, however, be
available only to myself. Items included ranged from the usual demographic
data and work experience, a wide range (130 items) of affective, attitudinal
and behavioural reactions experienced whilst on the MBA, reactions to the MBA
itself, their activities and allocation of time, and the Holmes and Rahe
measure of life change units. (Refer Appendix A). Of the 139 questionnaires
sent out, 96 were returned, a response rate of 75% . (One follow-up notice
had been sent ten days after distribution of the questionnaire, at which time
the response rate was 60%).

The second stage consisted of interviews of 2-4 hours duration with 22
respondents. The questionnaire results enabled me to choose, on the basis of
a quick assessment, those who had a high level of what was called "stress",
and those with a low level. Thus, I chose 10 with "high" responses, 8 with

^ One of the flaws in most of the existing studies on burnout is
potential response and/or self-selection bias. Some e.g., Gann (1980) have
low response rates (i.e., 25%) but the problem for most is self -selection
through voluntary workshop participation.

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low responses, and 4 with "medltim" responses. These numbers were chosen in
order to concentrate on the high and low scores, rather than medium scores,
and also reflect logistical difficulties in arranging for equal numbers of
those high and low scores. This does not correspond accurately with those who
could be considered, on the measure I used, more or less burnt out, for my
measurement index was not constructed until later. Those at the extremes did
not, however, change out of being either "high" or "low" on the Depletion

Two other sources of data were elicited. Exam results for those who had
completed the questionnaire were provided by the Cranfleld administration
after consultation with the student representatives. Those results cover each
of the four terms. The other major source of data was responses to the Myers
Briggs Typological Indicator (MBTI) which has been discussed in previous
sections. The MBTI had already been given to all students in November of the
previous year and I had access to this data on an anonymous and confidential
basis. Even if this data were not available, it would still have been chosen
as the preferred instrument to map personality factors, for the reasons
outlined previously.


The first aspect of the data analysis In this research is to see how the
Depletion Index relates to other dimensions of burnout postulated by
Maslach. In particular we are concerned with its relationship with
depersonalization. In the current study it is impossible to use her
client-based understanding and description of depersonalization. The focus
will instead be on a wider people-based description. The concern is, then,
with reactions to people, especially those reactions encompassed by Maslach 's

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description of depersonalisation.

Before looking at the relationship between Depletion and
Depersonalization in the current data, we need to determine first of all a
depersonalization index or, at least, some means of identifying and measuring

Finding "Depersonalization"

This raises the question of whether there 1^ a "depersonalization"
concept implicit in the data at all. There were a number of items in the
questionnaire which should have reflected this concept: "concern for others'
problems", "distancing oneself from others", "finding fault with others",

etc. The first step was to perform a factor analysis of a multitude of

items (76) in the Bame manner as Maslach's factor analysis, which revealed

for her data the three factors relating to burnout. No clear factor emerged

which could be called "depersonalization". Whilst it may be argued that the

number of items in the factor analysis were too many, note that an exhaustion

factor and another factor relating to worries about one's performance, the two

other dimensions of Maslach definition, did emerge as clear factors. (See

Table I). Furthermore, the original choice of items was based primarily on

those characteristics or reactions I had found described in the literature

prior to the study. Every type of reaction described in that literature I had

included and, as noted above, this included items which were almost

word-for-word descriptions of Maslach's concept of depersonalization.

Oblique (direct oblimin with Kaiser normalisation) rotation was used and
the scree test was employed as the cut-off criterion. This method was used

throughout .


These items are described in Appendix A ,Note 3.

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Items loading highly and clearly on the "Exhaustion" and "Worries about
Performance" Factors emerging from the Factor Analysis on all 76 items.

Energy Fluctuations
Struggle to Get Through Each Day
Exhausted Upon Waking
Feeling Exhausted
Neck and Shoulder Tension


Rest or Vacation did not Relieve Tiredness .83

Can't See the Wood for The Trees
Feel That You Are Working Harder but

Accomplishing Less
Performance Not Up to Scratch
Not as Quick Mentally as Before
Brain Giving Out On You



The range of items was then narrowed in two separate ways,
(i) First, items relating only to Maslach's three dimensions were
included. Again, no clear depersonalisation factor emerged although the other

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two dimensions were present. Most of the remaining factors each had as their
focal theme study or performance related items, with items relating to people
distributed over these other factors. The only "affective" factors related to
depression, and another to anxiety.

(ii) The second narrowed-down factor analysis excluded the exhaustion
and performance factors and concentrated more on purely affective reactions
including those items relating to dealing with people. Five factors emerged,
only four of which provided some "clean" items. (These factors could be
understood as: Depression, Boredom-Cynicism, Being Unrealistic, Positive View
of Life.) The fifth factor (which would have been eliminated on the scree
test) related to negative attitudes towards people, such as "lack of concern
for others problems", "irritability with others". However, it had no single
item loading above .5, and no single item which was not also moderately loaded
on another factor. It was basically an "unusable" factor. (A rough
depersonalisation index was constructed with the cleanest items using the same
methodology as that for the Depletion Index. The correlation between the
depersonalisation index and the Depletion Index was not significant (r=.l4)

The fact that no single coherent depersonalization factor could be
derived raises the question whether it is a sufficiently salient issue for the
MBA students (compared with human service workers). If it were salient and
relevant to burnout, one would have expected more evidence of it even from
using a technique such as factor analysis. It suggests that the situation
from which data are derived may influence which "factors" emerge and, hence,
which dimensions are seen to be relevant to the burnout experience. Using
Maslach's methodology, one would have obtained a different definition of
burnout from my sample. In particular one would not have found
depersonalization as one of its dimensions or one of its symptoms.

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The Nature of the Various Reactions to People

None of this yet sheds much light on how depersonalization relates to
burnout, as measured by the Depletion Index, for I have been using the same
methodological logic as Maslach primarily to Illustrate a point. Instead of
trying to see if depersonalization emerged from the data (and, hence. Its
salience as a part of burnout), obviously I was going to have to go and look
for It. To do this, analysis of the data concentrated on only those Items
which specifically dealt with reactions to, and feelings towards, other
people. In this way, even if depersonalization did not have relative salience
vis-a-vis other symptoms for this sample, by looking only at these items it
would be possible to ascertain the nature of the various reactions to and
feelings towards people. Was there, eimongst all the various reactions, that
which could be encompassed by the term depersonalization? If not, then the
nature of those reactions could at least be laid out. Another factor analysis
was performed and four clear factors emerged each of which had two clean
high-loading items which were chosen to "represent" the factor. Recall that
the previous description of what depersonalization is revealed several facets
of what was conceived of as a uni-dimenslonal construct. Strictly speaking,
its meaning is that of not treating or thinking of a person as a person, but
as a thing or object. However, as it is described by Maslach, it also

^Items "representing" each factor were as follows. First factor:
"Distancing Self from Others" and "It is best to understand that people are
all the same rather than different." Second factor: "Finding Fatilt with
Others" and "Striking Back at Others". Third Factor: "Lack of Ctoncem for
Others Problems" and "Not Aware of Minor Changes in Others Appearance" ; Fourth
Factor: "Not Wanting to Speak to People", and "Not Caring Whether Others Like
You". Item-factor loadings and intercorrelations are given in Appendix D.

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includes as primary dimensions detachment, feeling negative towards, and
unconcerned about, others. Each factor related to part of what Maslach
described as depersonalization. The four factors were: (l)Dlstanclng, which
corresponded with detachment In Maslach' s discussion; (2)Ho8tlllty, which
corresponded with negative reactions towards others; (3)Unconcem, which
corresponded with lack of concern for other's needs, and (4)Rejectlon, which
corresponded with a lack of Interest In others.

Whether or not these factors really do relate to what
depersonalization really Is, the fact remains that they reflect those
qualities of depersonalization discussed by Maslach. According to her
elaboration of the process and. Indeed, a common view (see Chemlss 1980, p.
19) these reactions towards others follow from the exhaustion experienced.
Irrespective of causality, depersonalization Is nevertheless considered to be
associated with exhaustion.

Is this the case In the present sample? Table II sets out this
association for the four factors. Two features of these results need to be
discussed; first, the diversity of the associations and secondly, the size of
the associations.

(1) Contrary to the conventional wisdom, only two of the four factors
are positively (and significantly) associated with the Depletion Index, I.e.
Distancing and Hostility. The remaining two factors. Rejection and Unconcern,
have a low or moderate negative association. In the context of the Depletion
of Energy, then, the last two factors are more in the nature of
"personalization" factors, not "depersonalization" factors. This was,
incidentally, supported by the interview data I obtained where it was clear
that, for some, their "personal energy crisis" had resulted in "greater
awareness of their own and others feelings", and "greater sensitivity towards

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others" Why, however, should the data show an increased concern for or need
for others the more depleted of energy one becomes?

Table II
Relationship Between Depletion Index and the Four Factors

Distancing Hostility Unconcern Rejection
.25 .25 -.15 -.31


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Online LibraryAnna-Maria GardenBurnout : the effect of Jungian type → online text (page 3 of 6)