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School principals world-wide report high levels of strain and attrition resulting in a shortage of qualified principals. It is thus crucial to identify psychosocial risk factors that reflect principals' occupational wellbeing. For this purpose, we used the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ-II), a widely used self-report measure covering multiple psychosocial factors identified by leading occupational stress theories. We evaluated the COPSOQ-II regarding factor structure and longitudinal, discriminant, and convergent validity using latent structural equation modeling in a large sample of Australian school principals (N = 2,049). Results reveal that confirmatory factor analysis produced marginally acceptable model fit. A novel approach we call set exploratory structural equation modeling (set-ESEM), where cross-loadings were only allowed within a priori defined sets of factors, fit well, and was more parsimonious than a full ESEM. Further multitrait-multimethod models based on the set-ESEM confirm the importance of a principal's psychosocial risk factors; Stressors and depression were related to demands and ill-being, while confidence and autonomy were related to wellbeing. We also show that working in the private sector was beneficial for showing a low psychosocial risk, while other demographics have little effects. Finally, we identify five latent risk profiles (high risk to no risk) of school principals based on all psychosocial factors. Overall the research presented here closes the theory application gap of a strong multi-dimensional measure of psychosocial risk-factors.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.