Crossover of burnout: An experimental design

Arnold B. Bakker, Mina Westman, Wilmar B. Schaufeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies tested the hypothesis that burnout may cross over from one person to another. In Study 1, teachers were randomly exposed to a bogus newspaper article in which a colleague expressed himself negatively about his work (burnout condition), or about a topic unrelated to work (control condition). The results showed that participants' burnout (exhaustion and depersonalization) was higher in the burnout condition compared to the control condition. In Study 2, soldiers were randomly exposed to a videotape of a burned-out or an engaged colleague who was either similar in profession and status (soldier), or who had a considerably higher status (squadron leader). The results were partly consistent with those of Study 1, and confirmed the crossover of burnout (cynicism and reduced professional efficacy). In line with predictions, a significant interaction effect for cynicism revealed that the crossover of burnout is moderated by similarity with the stimulus person.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-239
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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