Burnout at the Supermarket: Testing the Relevance of Personality and Stressful Situations

Claudia Cristina Colom Martínez, María José Contreras Alcalde


The well-known burnout syndrome includes psychological facets that have been analyzed with respect to professions with systematic and persistent social contact. However, the context is just one side of the coin, albeit important. There might be some differential vulnerability to the development of the syndrome (the other side of the coin). The study reported here is based on a previous research that observed high levels of the syndrome in cashiers of several supermarkets. Going one step further, here (a) 13 cashiers were compared with 13 workers from other sections of a supermarket, and (b) the personality traits considered by the Big Five Model were measured for estimating the efficient use of knowledge and skills required for achieving social goals (P factor).  These were the results: (a) no group differences in the syndrome between cashiers and other sections, and (b) negative correlations between the P factor and burnout scores. It is concluded that individual differences in personality might interact with the occupational context for promoting (or preventing) the burnout syndrome.


burnout, personality, supermarket workers, short burnout questionnaire, maslach inventory

Full Text:



Alarcon, G., Eschleman, K. J., & Bowling, N. A. (2009) Relationships between Personality Variables and Burnout: A Meta-analysis, Work & Stress, 23(3), 244–263. https://doi.org/10.1080/02678370903282600

Ashton, M. C. (2018). Individual Differences and Personality (Third Ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Baldissarri, C., Andrighetto, L., & Volpato, C. (2014). When Work does not Ennoble Man: Psychological Consequences of Working Objectification. TPM, 21(3), 327–339. https://doi.org/10.4473/TPM21.3.7

Caspi, A., Houts, R. M., Belsky, D. W., Goldman-Mellor, S. J., Harrington, N. L., Israel, S., …Moffitt, T. E. (2014). The p Factor: One General Psychopathology Factor in the Structure of Psychiatric Disorders? Clinical Psychological Science, 2(2), 119–137. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702613497473

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2014). Personality and Individual Differences (3rd Ed.). London, UK: Wiley.

Chow, P. I., Wagner, J., Lüdtke, O., Trautwein, U., & Roberts, B. W. (2017). Therapy Experience in Naturalistic Observational Studies is Associated with Negative Changes in Personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 68, 88–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2017.02.002

Cohen, J. (1992). A Power Primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155–159.

Costa, P. T. & McCrae, R. R. (1999). Inventario NEO reducido de cinco factores (NEO-FFI). Manual profesional. [NEO Five.Factor inventor (NEO-FFI). Professional Manual]. Madrid, Spain: TEA.

Deary, I., Weiss, A., & Batty, S. (2010). Intelligence and Personality as Predictors of Illness and Death. How Researchers in Differential Psychology and Chronic Disease Epidemiology are Collaborating to Understand and Address Health Inequalities. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 11(2), 53–79. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100610387081

Demetriou, A. Spanoudis, G., & Golino, H. (2018). gP for What is Common between Developing Intelligence and Personality: Response to the Commentators. Journal of Intelligence, 6(4), 54. https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6040054

Elfering, A. (2006). Work-related Outcome Assessment Instruments. European Spine Journal, 15(1), 32–43. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-005-1044-x

Elfering, A. & Mannion, A. F. (2008). Epidemiology and Risk Factors of Spinal Disorders. In Boos, N. & Aebi, M. (Eds.), Spinal Disorders – Fundamentals of Diagnosis and Treatment (pp. 153–173). Berlin, Germany: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-69091-7_6

Fender, L. K. (1989) Athlete Burnout: Potential for Research and Interventions Strategies. Sport Psychologist, 3, 63–71.

Flores-Mendoza, C., Escorial, S., Herrero, O, & Colom, R. (2018). The Dissociation between Adult Intelligence and Personality with Respect to Maltreatment Episodes and Externalizing Behaviors Occurring in Childhood. Journal of Intelligence, 6, 31. https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence6030031

Freudenberger, H. J. (1974). Staff Burnout. The Journal of Social Issues, 30, 159–165. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1974.tb00706.x.

Garcés de los Fayos E. J. & Cantón, E. (1995). El cese de la motivación: el síndrome de burnout en deportistas. [The Cessation of Motivation: Burnout Síndrome in Athletes]. Revista de Psicología del Deporte ,7-8,147–154.

Graham, E. K., Rutsohn, J. P., & Mroczek, D. K. (2017). Personality Predicts Mortality Risk: An Integrative Data Analysis of 15 International Longitudinal Studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 70, 174–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2017.07.005

Heuven, E. & Bakker, A. B. (2003). Emotional Dissonance and Burnout among Cabin Attendants. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 12, 81–100. https://doi.org/10.1080/13594320344000039

Hochschild A. R. (1983). The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Feeling. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Jensen, A. R. (1980). Bias in Mental Testing. New York, NY: Free Press.

Johnson, S. J., Holdsworth, L., Hoel, H., & Zapf, D. (2013). Customer Stressors in service Organizations: The Impact of Age on Stress Management and Burnout. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 22(3), 318–330. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2013.772581

Kottwitz, M. U., Rolli, C., Buser, C., & Elfering, A. (2017). Emotion Work and Musculoskeletal Pain in Supermarket Cashiers: A Test of a Sleep-Mediation Model. Scandinavian Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 2(1) 1–13, https://doi.org/10.16993/sjwop.25

Levinson, H. (1981). When Executives Burn-out. Harvard Bussines Review, 59, 73–78.

Lluis-Font, J. M. (2005). Personality: Systems Net Theory. Individual Differences Research, 3(4), 213–238.

Langelaan, S., Bakker, A. B., van Doornen, L. J. P., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2006). Burnout and Work Engagement: Do Individual differences Make a Difference? Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 521–532. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2005.07.009

Loehlin, J. C. (2012). How General across Inventories is a General Factor of Personality? Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 258-263. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2012.02.003

Maslach, C. & Jackson, S. E. (1981). MBI: Maslach Burnout Inventory.Manual. Palo Alto, CA: University of California, Consulting Psychologists Press.

Maslach, C. & Jackson, S. E. (1986). Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual (2.ª ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Maslasch, C. & Jackson, S. E. (1982). Burnout in Health professions: A Social Psychological Analysis. In G. Sanders & J. Suls (Eds.), Social Psychology of health and illness (pp. 221–257). Hillsdale, N.J: Erlbaum.

Maslach, C., Jackson, S. E., & Leiter, M. P. (1996). Maslach Burnout Inventory manual (3ª ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Maslach, C., Jackson, S. E., & Leiter, M. P. (1997). Maslach Burnout Inventory manual (3ª ed.). In C.P Zalaquett & R.J. Wood (Eds.), Evaluating Stress: A Book of Resources (pp. 191–218). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Moreno-Jiménez, B., Bustos, R., Matallana, A., & Miralles, T. (1997). La evaluación del burnout. Problemas y alternativas. El CBB como evaluación de los elementos del proceso [The Evaluation of Burnout. Problems and Alternatives.The CBB as an Evaluation of the Elements of the Process]. Revista de Psicología del Trabajo y las Organizaciones, 12, 185–207.

Moreno-Jiménez, B., Rodríguez-Carvajal, R. & Escobar, E. (2001). La evaluación del burnout profesional. Factorialización del MBI-GS. Un análisis preliminar [The Evaluation of Profesional Burnout. Factorialization of the MBI-GS. A Preliminary Analysis]. Ansiedad y Estrés, 7(1), 69–78.

Moreno-Jiménez, B., Garrosa, E., Gálvez, M., Arias, V., Villagrasa, J., Rodríguez, R., & Morante, E. (2004).Informe final de investigación. Análisis del desgaste profesional (Burnout) en el trabajo de cajeras de la Comunidad de Madrid [Final Research Report. Analysis of Professional Burnout in the Work of Cashiers of the Community of Madrid]. Madrid, Spain: Facultad de Psicología, UAM.

Musek, J. (2007). A general Factor of Personality: Evidence for the Big One in the five-factor model. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 1213–1233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2007.02.003

Pines, A. M. (1988). Keeping the Spark Alive: Preventing Burnout in Love and Marriage. New York, NY: St Martin Press.

Pinker, S. (2016). The Blank Slate (2002/2016). New York, NY: Viking.

Plomin, R., DeFries, J. C., Knopik, V. S., & Neiderhiser, J. M. (2016). Top 10 Replicated Findings from Behavioral Genetics. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 11(1), 3–23. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691615617439

Procaccini, J. & Kiefaber, M.W. (1983). Parent Burnout. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Roberts, B. W. & DelVecchio, W. F. (2000). The rank-order Consistency of Personality from Childhood to Old Age: A Quantitative Review of Longitudinal Studies. Universidad de Tulsa. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 3–25. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.126.1.3

Shankar, B. & Kumar, S. (2014). Emotional Labour and Burnout Relationship: Role of Social Support and Coping. Indian Journal of Community Psychology, 2014(10), 263–277.

Singh, J. (2000). Performance Productivity and Quality of Frontline Employees in Service Organizations. Journal of Marketing, 64(2), 15–34.

Swider, B. W. & Zimmerman, R. D. (2010). Born to Burnout: A Meta-analytic Path Model of Personality, Job Burnout, and Work Outcomes. Journal of Vocational Behavior 76, 487–506. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2010.01.003

Van der Linden, D., Pekaar, K. A., Bakker, A. B., Schemer, J. A., Vernon, P. A., Dunkel, C. S., & Petrides, K. V. (2017). Overlap between the General Factor of Personality and Emotional Intelligence: A Meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 143(1), 36–52. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000078

Wieser, S., Horisberger, B., Schmidhauser, S., Eisenring, C., Brügger, U., Ruckstuhl, A., ... Müller, U. (2011). Cost of Low Back Pain in Switzerland in 2005. Euro¬pean Journal of Health Economics, 12(5), 455–467. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10198-010-0258-y

Zapf, D. (2002). Emotional Work and Psychological Well-being a Review of the Literature and some Conceptual Considerations. Human Resource Management Review, 12, 237–268. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1053-4822(02)00048-7

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5944/ap.15.2.22154


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Faculty of Psychology. Applied Psychology Service (UNED)

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

Attribution-NonCommercial  (CC BY-NC)This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.


Accion Psicologica

Applied Psychology Service (SPA), Faculty of Psychology (UNED).

C/ Juan del Rosal nº 10 28040 Madrid.

email: accionpsicologica@psi.uned.es

eISSN: 2255-1271