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This study examines a motivational premise of burnout: in order to burn out, an employee must first be fired up. Based on the dualistic model of passion, we propose that the types of passion – harmonious or obsessive – that drive novice teachers differentially affect the three components of burnout. We further propose that job autonomy (i.e. decision latitude) differentially predict the two types of passion for work. These hypotheses are tested in two studies conducted in Canada in teachers with five years' or less experience. Study 1, using a cross-sectional design, showed that job autonomy positively predicted harmonious passion but negatively predicted obsessive passion. Harmonious passion negatively predicted all three components of burnout, whereas obsessive passion positively predicted emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. A second, 12-month longitudinal study revealed unidirectional effects of job autonomy on the two types of passion. The results also showed unidirectional effects of harmonious passion on professional efficacy and obsessive passion on emotional exhaustion. Neither type of passion predicted cynicism over time. These findings suggest that a more nuanced understanding of passion is required to predict burnout at career start. Implications for theory and further research on burnout and passion for work are discussed.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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