Professor and David C. Darnell Presidential Chair in Principled Leadership Julie Wayne has received special distinction in the Journal of Business and Psychology (JBP)for her article “Who’s Remembering to Buy the Eggs? The Meaning, Measurement, and Implications of Invisible Family Load.” With over 1,200 submissions, Wayne’s research is one of only 12 to receive this prestigious Editor Commendation.
Wayne and her colleagues at the University of Alabama and the Asia School of Business reference this cartoon from 2017 published in The Guardian that depicted the wife as the household “project manager” who thinks about, knows, plans, organizes, and tells others what needs to be done and when. While the cartoon ignited public conversation on the topic, academic literature proved scarce.
Using a mixed method, five-study approach, Wayne’s team defined and developed a scale to measure “invisible family load” and investigated gender differences and found, as expected, that women report higher levels of each dimension of managerial (planning), cognitive (thinking, remembering), and emotional (worrying) load in their families.
The research also examined the implications of invisible family load for employee health, well-being, and job attitudes, as well as family-to-work spillover. Although significant negative consequences were uncovered, results also unveiled some potential benefits.
“Having greater emotional family load is associated with a host of negative outcomes including greater sleep problems, job and family exhaustion, and lower life and family satisfaction,” Wayne said. “Contrary to the popular notion that invisible family load is entirely negative, we find people find a sense of meaning and purpose in taking on the cognitive and managerial load in their families and it is associated with better life and family satisfaction.”
“Due to its implications for health and well-being, individuals should be especially mindful about excessive worrying about their family’s needs and responsibilities. They could set aside a daily ‘worry time’ to think and plan, challenge anxious thoughts, consider what they can and cannot control, use relaxation and mindfulness strategies, and discuss equitable distribution of the emotional family load with a partner if they have one.”
Since its inception in 1986, the JBP has served as an international outlet publishing high-quality research designed to advance organizational science and practice.