Work Motivation and Neurotic Perfectionism as Predictors of Workaholism

Jelena Marković


The basic goal of this research was to examine which aspects of work motivation and perfectionism predict workaholism, in order to identify potential risk factors. Workaholism is defined as an internal need to work excessively that damages our health and psychosocial well-being, leading to long-term exhaustion and work inefficacy. Intrinsic motivation stems from the feeling of satisfaction inherent in doing work-related tasks and using our professional competencies, whereas extrinsic motivation stems from external rewards, a satisfaction of our other needs through work. The basis of neurotic perfectionism lies in the constant discrepancy between the goals person has set and what is achieved, which can lead to chronic dissatisfaction. The following instruments were used: The almost Perfect Scale, the Work extrinsic and intrinsic motivation scale, and Bergen Work Addiction Scale. The sample consisted of 109 participants, workers from the Republika Srpska area, aged 21 to 55. Most of the sample consisted of female participants (75.24%). The results of Kolmogorov-Smirnoff tests show that participants' scores on all examined variables are distributed normally. The fact that workaholism is moderately present in our sample is opposite from original expectations and highlights the need to further examine the prevalence of this phenomenon in the general working population. The predictive model as a whole is statistically significant (F(5,103)=5.01,p<0.00) and predicts 16% of workaholism variance. However, only perfectionism component discrepancy was a significant and positive predictor of workaholism, but not intrinsic or extrinsic work motivation.
The results suggest that workaholism can originate from the efforts of perfectionistic persons to overcome their perceived failures in achieving their unrealistically high goals. It is possible that, through time, obsessive work becomes a means to avoid dealing with negative emotions towards themselves, and also as a way to excuse themselves from real or irrational failures (“I did not achieve my goal, but I worked really hard and I will keep trying”). Of course, in the long run, excessive perfectionism combined with workaholism leads to utter exhaustion and further deterioration of work performance. In order to cope with the constant rise of negative feelings a person tries to work even harder and to achieve increasingly unrealistic goals, leading to a downward spiral of self-destruction. The implications of this research are that in order to treat workaholism it may be necessary to question the structure of unattainable goals that a person sets and the underlying feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and self-loathing that may play an important role in perpetuating maladaptive behavior of a typical workaholic. Workaholism must be studied as a part of wider personality structure and dynamic, as it serves an important (and maladaptive) role in defense against unwanted feelings and ideas of lesser worth, failure, etc.


workaholism; neurotic perfectionism; extrinsic and intrinsic work motivation

Full Text:



Andreassen, Cecilie Schou, Mark D. Griffiths, Jørn Hetland, Ståle Pallesen (2012), ˝Development of a work addiction scale˝, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 53, 265–272.

Andreassen, Cecilie Schou, Holger Ursin, Hege R. Eriksen (2007), ˝The relationship between strong motivation to work, “workaholism”, and health˝, Psychology and Health, 22(5), 615-629.

Ashby, Jeffrey S., Kenneth G. Rice (2002), ˝Perfectionism, dysfunctional attitudes, and selfesteem: A structural equations analysis˝, Journal of Counseling and Development, 80(2), 197-203.

Bakker, Arnold B., Evangelia Demerouti, Wido Oerlemans, Sabine Sonnentag (2013), ˝Workaholism and daily recovery: A day reconstruction study of leisure activities˝, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(1), 87-107.

Booket, Elham Jahangir, Fatemeh Dehghan, Zahra Alizadeh (2018), ˝The role of predicting the formation of workaholism based on personality factors and perfectionism in academics˝, Cogent Psychology, 5(1), 1527200.

Clark, Malissa A., Ariel M. Lelchook, Marcie L. Taylor (2010), ˝Beyond the Big Five: How narcissism, perfectionism, and dispositional affect relate to workaholism˝, Personality and Individual differences, 48(7), 786-791.

Falco, Alessandra, Laura Dal Corso, Damiano Girardi, Alessandro De Carlo, Barbara Barbieri, Tania Boatto, Wilmar B. Schaufeli (2017), ˝Why is perfectionism a risk factor for workaholism? The mediating role of irrational beliefs at work˝ TPM - Testing, Psychometrics, Methodology in Applied Psychology, 24(4), 583–600.

Flett, Gordon L., Paul L. Hewitt (2002), ˝Perfectionism and maladjustment: An overview of theoretical, definitional, and treatment issues˝, In: G. L. Flett & P. L. Hewitt (Eds.), Perfectionism: Theory, research, and treatment, American Psychological Association, 5–31.

Gillet, Nicolas, Alexandre J.S. Morin, Adama Ndiaye, Philippe Colombat, Emilie Sandrin, Evelyne Fouquereau (2022), ˝Complementary variableand personcentred approaches to the dimensionality of workaholism˝, Applied Psychology, 71(1), 312-355.

Girardi, Damiano, Alessandra Falco, Alessandro De Carlo, Laura Dal Corso, Paula Benevene (2018), ˝Perfectionism and workaholism in managers: the moderating role of workload˝, TPM: Testing, Psychometrics, Methodology in Applied Psychology, 25(4), 571-588.

Greblo, Zrinka (2012), ˝Što se skriva iza pojma “perfekcionizam”? Povijest proučavanja i pregled različitih konceptualizacija perfekcionizma˝, Psiho- logijske teme, 21(1), 195-212.

Griffiths, Mark D. (2011), ˝Workaholism: A 21st century addiction˝, The Psychologist, 24(10), 740-744.

Hamachek, Don E. (1978), ˝Psychodynamics of normal and neurotic perfectionism˝, Psychology: A Journal of Human Behavior, 15(1), 27–33.

Harpaz, Itzhak, Raphael Snir (2003), ˝Workaholism: Its Definition and Nature. Human Relations˝, 56, 291-319.

Jambrek, Ines, Ivan Ivica Penić (2008), ˝Upravljanje ljudskim potencijalima u poduzećima – ljudski faktor, motivacija zaposlenika kao najvažniji čimbenici uspješnosti poslovanja poduzeća˝ Zbornik Pravnog fakulteta Sveučilišta u Rijeci, 29(2), 1181-1206.

Jelić, Milan (2005), Menadžment poslovnog sistema, M Power, Banja Luka

Mazzetti, Greta, Wilmar B. Schaufeli, Dina Guglielmi (2014), ˝Are workaholics born or made? Relations of workaholism with person characteristics and overwork climate˝, International Journal of Stress Management, 21(3), 227–254.

McMillan, Lynley H. W., Michael P. O’Driscoll (2006), ˝Exploring new frontiers to generate an integrated definition of workaholism˝, In: R. J. Burke (ed.), Research Companion To Working Time And Work Addiction, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, 89-107.

McMillan, Lynley H. W., Michael P. O’Driscoll (2004), ˝Workaholism and health˝ Journal of Organizational Change Management, 17(5), 115-128.

Ryan, Richard M., Edward L. Deci (2000), ˝Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions˝, Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 54-67.

Schaufeli, Wilmar B., Marisa Salanova, Vicente González-Romá, Arnold B. Bakker (2002), ˝The Measurement of Engagement and Burnout: A Two Sample Confirmatory Factor Analytic Approach˝, Journal of Happiness Studies, 3(1), 71-92.

Schaufeli, Wilmar B., Akihito Shimazu, Toon W. Taris (2009), ˝Being Driven to Work Excessively Hard: The Evaluation of a Two-Factor Measure of Workaholism in The Netherlands and Japa˝, Cross-cultural research, 43(4), 320-348.

Shimazu, Akihito, Wilmar B. Schaufeli (2009), ˝Is workaholism good or bad for employee well-being? The distinctiveness of workaholism and work engagement among Japanese employees˝, Industrial health, 47(5), 495-502.

Slaney, Robert B., Kenneth G. Rice, Michael Mobley, Joseph Trippi, Jeffrey S. Ashby (2001), ˝The revised almost perfect scale˝, Measurement and evaluation in counseling and development, 34(3), 130-145.

Stoeber, Joachim, Charlotte R. Davis, Jessica Townley (2013), ˝Perfectionism and workaholism in employees: The role of work motivation˝, Personality and Individual Differences, 55(7), 733-738.

Todorović, Dušan, Ljubiša Zlatanović, Snežana Stojiljković, Jelisaveta Todorović (2009), ˝Relations of perfectionism to self-esteem and depression in students˝, Godišnjak za psihologiju, 6 (8), 184-200.

Tremblay, Maxime A., Celine M. Blanchard, Sara Taylor, Luc G. Pelletier, Martin Villeneuve (2009), ˝Work Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation Scale: Its value for organizational psychology research˝, Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 41(4), 213-225.

Van Beek, Ilona, Qiao Hu, Wilmar B. Schaufeli, Toon W. Taris, Bert H. J. Schreurs (2011), ˝For Fun, Love, or Money: What Drives Workaholic, Engaged, and Burned-Out Employees at Work?˝, Applied Psychology, 61(1), 30-55.

Van den Broeck, Anja, Bert Schreurs, Hans de Witte, Maarten Vansteenkiste, Filip Germeys, Wilmar Schaufeli (2011), ˝Understanding workaholics’ motivations: A self-determination perspective˝, Applied Psychology, 60(4), 600-621.

Varga, Matija (2011), ˝Upravljanje ljudskim potencijalima kroz motivaciju, Zbornik radova Međimurskog veleučilišta u Čakovcu, 2(1), 152-169.

Vidaković, Tatjana (2012), ˝Nematerijalne nagrade i njihov uticaj na motivaciju zaposlenih˝, EMC Review – časopis za ekonomiku, 3(1), 217-234.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN: 2490-3604 (print) ● ISSN: 2490-3647 (online)

Društvene i humanističke studije - DHS is under the Creative Commons licence.