Eldercare Demands and Time Theft: Integrating Family-to-Work Conflict and Spillover–Crossover Perspectives

  • Yisheng PengEmail author
  • Steve Jex
  • Wenqin Zhang
  • Jie Ma
  • Russell A. Matthews
Original Paper


Adapting the spillover–crossover model to the context of eldercare, we employed a 5-week weekly diary method in a sample of 82 Chinese dual-earner heterosexual couples to examine the relationships between family eldercare demands, family-to-work conflict, and time theft. Results from multilevel path modeling analyses found that family eldercare demands (as a shared/common stressor) were positively related to each partner’s family-to-work conflict and that the weekly family-to-work conflict of each partner was positively related. Furthermore, family eldercare demands were positively related to each partner’s time theft at the week level, and this relationship was mediated by weekly family-to-work conflict. Thus, this is one of the first studies to show that family eldercare demands can explain the interindividual crossover of family-to-work conflict between partners at the week level and this can spill over intraindividually to impact time theft at work. These findings enhance the field’s understanding of the process by which eldercare demands relate to time theft among dual-earner couples within a focused temporal framework.


Eldercare Time theft Family-to-work conflict Spillover–crossover model 



  1. AARP & The National Alliance for Caregiving (2015). Caregiving in the U.S. Retrieved from: Accessed 31 Aug 2017.
  2. Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2013). The spillover-crossover model. In J. G. Grzywacz & E. Demerouti (Eds.), New frontiers in work and family research (pp. 54–69). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Dollard, M. F. (2008). How job demands affect partners’ experience of exhaustion: Integrating work-family conflict and crossover theory. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 901–911.Google Scholar
  4. Baltes, B. B., & Heydens-Gahir, H. A. (2003). Reduction of work-family conflict through the use of selection, optimization, and compensation behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 1005–1018.Google Scholar
  5. Barling, J., MacEwen, K. E., Kelloway, E. K., & Higginbottom, S. F. (1994). Predictors and outcomes of elder-care-based interrole conflict. Psychology and Aging, 9, 391–397.Google Scholar
  6. Barrah, J. L., Shultz, K. S., Baltes, B., & Stolz, H. E. (2004). Men’s and women’s eldercare-based work–family conflict: Antecedents and work-related outcomes. Fathering, 2, 305–330.Google Scholar
  7. Bédard, M., Molloy, D. W., Squire, L., Dubois, S., Lever, J. A., & O’Donnell, M. (2001). The Zarit Burden Interview: A new short version and screening version. The Gerontologist, 41, 652–657.Google Scholar
  8. Bennett, R. J., & Robinson, S. L. (2000). Development of a measure of workplace deviance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 349–360.Google Scholar
  9. Berry, C. M., Carpenter, N. C., & Barratt, C. L. (2012). Do other-reports of counterproductive work behavior provide an incremental contribution over self-reports? A meta-analytic comparison. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97, 613–636.Google Scholar
  10. Bolger, N., Davis, A., & Rafaeli, E. (2003). Diary methods: Capturing life as it is lived. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 579–616.Google Scholar
  11. Bolger, N., DeLongis, A., Kessler, R. C., & Wethington, E. (1989). The contagion of stress across multiple roles. Journal of Marriage and Family, 51, 175–183.Google Scholar
  12. Brislin, R. W. (1980). Translation and content analysis of oral and written materials. In H. C. Triandis & J. W. Berry (Eds.), Handbook of cross-cultural psychology (pp. 137–164). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  13. Brock, M. E., Martin, L. E., & Buckley, M. R. (2013). Time theft in organizations: The development of the time banditry questionnaire. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 21, 309–321.Google Scholar
  14. Buhrmester, M. D., Talaifar, S., & Gosling, S. D. (2018). An evaluation of Amazon’s mechanical turk, its rapid rise, and its effective use. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13, 149–154.Google Scholar
  15. Chen, F., & Liu, G. (2009). Population aging in China. In P. Uhlenberg (Ed.), International handbook of population aging (pp. 157–172). New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Dalal, R. S., Lam, H., Weiss, H. M., Welch, E. R., & Hulin, C. L. (2009). A within-person approach to work behavior and performance: Concurrent and lagged citizenship-counterproductivity associations, and dynamic relationships with affect and overall job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 1051–1066.Google Scholar
  17. Dugan, A., Matthews, R. A., & Barnes-Farrell, J. L. (2012). Understanding the role of subjective and objective experiences of time in the work-family interface. Community, Work & Family, 15, 149–172.Google Scholar
  18. Ferguson, M., Carlson, D., Hunter, E. M., & Whitten, D. (2012). A two-study examination of work–family conflict, production deviance and gender. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 81, 245–258.Google Scholar
  19. Fortinsky, R. (2011), Juggling work and eldercare responsibilities. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CPH News Views (20):1–2.Google Scholar
  20. Frone, M. R., Russell, M., & Cooper, M. L. (1992). Antecedents and outcomes of work-family conflict: Testing a model of the work-family interface. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 65–78.Google Scholar
  21. Gorey, K. M., Rice, R. W., & Brice, G. C. (1992). The prevalence of elder care responsibilities among the work force population: Response bias among a group of cross-sectional surveys. Research on Aging, 14, 399–418.Google Scholar
  22. Greenhaus, J. H., & Powell, G. N. (2006). When work and family are allies: A theory of work-family enrichment. Academy of Management Review, 31, 72–92.Google Scholar
  23. Grzywacz, J. G., Frone, M. R., Brewer, C. S., & Kovner, C. T. (2006). Quantifying work-family conflict among registered nurses. Research in Nursing & Health, 29, 414–426.Google Scholar
  24. Hammer, L. B., Allen, E., & Grigsby, T. D. (1997). Work–family conflict in dual-earner couples: Within-individual and crossover effects of work and family. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 50, 185–203.Google Scholar
  25. Hammer, L. B., Bauer, T. N., & Grandey, A. A. (2003). Work-family conflict and work-related withdrawal behaviors. Journal of Business and Psychology, 17, 419–436.Google Scholar
  26. Hammer, L. B., Kossek, E. E., Anger, W. K., Bodner, T., & Zimmerman, K. L. (2011). Clarifying work-family intervention processes: The roles of work-family conflict and family-supportive supervisor behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 134–150.Google Scholar
  27. Hammer, L. B., Neal, M. B., Newsom, J. T., Brockwood, K. J., & Colton, C. L. (2005). A longitudinal study of the effects of dual-earner couples’ utilization of family-friendly workplace supports on work and family outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 799–810.Google Scholar
  28. Henle, C. A., Reeve, C. L., & Pitts, V. E. (2010). Stealing time at work: Attitudes, social pressure, and perceived control as predictors of time theft. Journal of Business Ethics, 94, 53–67.Google Scholar
  29. Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: A new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American Psychologist, 44, 513–524.Google Scholar
  30. Hobfoll, S. E., & London, P. (1986). The relationship of self-concept and social support to emotional distress among women during war. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 4, 189–203.Google Scholar
  31. Huffman, A. H., Matthews, R. A., & Irving, L. H. (2017). Family fairness and cohesion in marital dyads: Mediating processes between work–family conflict and couple psychological distress. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 90, 95–116.Google Scholar
  32. Ilies, R., Schwind, K. M., & Heller, D. (2007). Employee well-being: A multilevel model linking work and nonwork domains. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 16, 326–341.Google Scholar
  33. Jöreskog, K. G. (1977). Factor analysis by least-squares and maximum-likelihood methods. In K. Enslein, A. Ralston, & H. S. Wilf (Eds.), Statistical methods for digital computers (pp. 125–153). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  34. Kaplan, D. (1998). Methods for multilevel data analysis. In G. A. Marcoulides (Ed.), Modern methods for business research (pp. 337–357). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  35. Ketchen, D. J., Craighead, C. W., & Buckley, M. R. (2008). Time bandits: How they are created, why they are tolerated, and what can be done about them. Business Horizons, 51, 141–149.Google Scholar
  36. Kossek, E. E., Thompson, R. J., Lawson, K. M., Bodner, T., Perrigino, M. B., Hammer, L. B., ..., Bray, J. W. (2017). Caring for the elderly at work and home: Can a randomized organizational intervention improve psychological health? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Advance online publication. Google Scholar
  37. Krischer, M. M., Penney, L. M., & Hunter, E. M. (2010). Can counterproductive work behaviors be productive? CWB as emotion-focused coping. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15, 154–166.Google Scholar
  38. Lance, C. E., Butts, M. M., & Michels, L. C. (2006). The sources of four commonly reported cutoff criteria: What did they really say? Organizational Research Methods, 9, 202–220.Google Scholar
  39. Laurenceau, J., & Bolger, N. (2005). Using diary methods to study marital and family processes. Journal of Family Psychology, 19, 86–97.Google Scholar
  40. LeBreton, J. M., & Senter, J. L. (2008). Answers to 20 questions about interrater reliability and interrater agreement. Organizational Research Methods, 11, 815–852.Google Scholar
  41. Litman, L., Robinson, J., & Abberbock, T. (2017). A versatile crowdsourcing data acquisition platform for the behavioral sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 49, 433–442.
  42. Lorinkova, N. M., & Perry, S. J. (2017). When is empowerment effective? The role of leader-leader exchange in empowering leadership, cynicism, and time theft. Journal of Management, 43, 1631–1654.Google Scholar
  43. Lu, C. Q., Lu, J. J., Du, D. Y., & Brough, P. (2016). Crossover effects of work-family conflict among Chinese couples. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 31, 235–250.Google Scholar
  44. Martin, L. E., Brock, M. E., Buckley, M. R., & Ketchen, D. J. (2010). Time banditry: Examining the purloining of time in organizations. Human Resource Management Review, 20, 26–34.Google Scholar
  45. Matthews, R. A., Wayne, J. H., & Ford, M. T. (2014). A work–family conflict/subjective well-being process model: A test of competing theories of longitudinal effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99, 1173–1187.Google Scholar
  46. Matthews, R. A., Winkel, D. E., & Wayne, J. H. (2014). A longitudinal examination of role overload and work–family conflict: The mediating role of inter-domain transitions. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35, 72–91.Google Scholar
  47. McGee, M. K., & Fillon, M. (1995). Honesty is still the best policy. Information Week, 519, 156.Google Scholar
  48. Odle-Dusseau, H. N., Hammer, L. B., Crain, T. L., & Bodner, T. E. (2016). The influence of family-supportive supervisor training on employee job performance and attitudes: An organizational work–family intervention. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 21, 296–308.Google Scholar
  49. Ohly, S., Sonnentag, S., Niessen, C., & Zapf, D. (2010). Diary studies in organizational research: An introduction and some practical recommendations. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 9, 79–93.Google Scholar
  50. Paullin, C., & Whetzel, D. L. (2012). Retention strategies and older workers. In J. W. Hedge & W. C. Borman (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of work and aging (pp. 392–418). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Pei, X., Luo, H., Lin, Z., Keating, N., & Fast, J. (2017). The impact of eldercare on adult children’s health and employment in transitional China. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 32, 357–372.Google Scholar
  52. Peng, Y., Jex, S. M., & Wang, M. (2018). Aging and occupational health. In K. Shultz, & G. Adams (Eds.), Aging and work in the 21st century (2nd Ed; pp. 213–233). Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2012). Sources of method bias in social science research and recommendations on how to control it. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 539–569.Google Scholar
  54. Raudenbush, S. W., Brennan, R. T., & Barnett, R. C. (1995). A multivariate hierarchical model for studying psychological change in married couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 9, 161–174.Google Scholar
  55. Sanz-Vergel, A. I., Rodríguez-Muñoz, A., & Nielsen, K. (2015). The thin line between work and home: The spillover and crossover of daily conflicts. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 88, 1–18.Google Scholar
  56. Selig, J. P., & Preacher, K. J. (2009). Mediation models for longitudinal data in developmental research. Research in Human Development, 6, 144–164.Google Scholar
  57. Shoptaugh, C. F., Phelps, J. A., & Visio, M. E. (2004). Employee eldercare responsibilities: Should organizations care? Journal of Business and Psychology, 19, 179–196.Google Scholar
  58. Spector, P. E., Fox, S., Penney, L. M., Bruursema, K., Goh, A., & Kessler, S. (2006). The dimensionality of counterproductivity: Are all counterproductive behaviors created equal? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 446–460.Google Scholar
  59. Song, Z., Foo, M. D., Uy, M. A., & Sun, S. (2011). Unraveling the daily stress crossover between unemployed individuals and their employed spouses. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 151–168.Google Scholar
  60. Thrasher, G. R., Zabel, K., Wynne, K., & Baltes, B. B. (2016). The importance of workplace motives in understanding work–family issues for older workers. Work, Aging and Retirement, 2, 1–11.Google Scholar
  61. Trukeschitz, B., Schneider, U., Mühlmann, R., & Ponocny, I. (2012). Informal eldercare and work-related strain. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 68, 257–267.Google Scholar
  62. Westman, M. (2001). Stress and strain crossover. Human Relations, 54, 557–591.Google Scholar
  63. Westman, M., & Etzion, D. (1995). Crossover of stress, strain and resources from one spouse to another. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 16, 169–181.Google Scholar
  64. Westman, M., & Vinokur, A. D. (1998). Unraveling the relationship of distress levels within couples: Common stressors, empathic reactions, or crossover via social interaction?. Human Relations, 51, 137–156.Google Scholar
  65. Westman, M., & Etzion, D. L. (2005). The Crossover of Work‐Family Conflict From One Spouse to the Other. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 1936–1957.Google Scholar
  66. Westman, M., Keinan, G., Roziner, I., & Benyamini, Y. (2008). The crossover of perceived health between spouses. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 13, 168–180.Google Scholar
  67. World Health Organization. (2015). World report on ageing and health. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  68. Zacher, H., Jimmieson, N. L., & Winter, G. (2012). Eldercare demands, mental health, and work performance: The moderating role of satisfaction with eldercare tasks. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology17, 52–64.Google Scholar
  69. Zacher, H., & Winter, G. (2011). Eldercare demands, strain, and work engagement: The moderating role of perceived organizational support. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 79, 667–680.Google Scholar
  70. Zarit, S. H., Orr, N. K., & Zarit, J. M. (1985). The hidden victims of Alzheimer’s disease: Families under stress. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Zhan, H. J. (2002). Chinese caregiving burden and the future burden of elder care in life-course perspective. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 54, 267–290.Google Scholar
  72. Zhang, Z., Zyphur, M. J., & Preacher, K. J. (2009). Testing multilevel mediation using hierarchical linear models: Problems and solutions. Organizational Research Methods, 12, 695–719.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHofstra UniversityHempsteadUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  3. 3.School of Business AdministrationNanjing University of Finance and EconomicsNanjingChina
  4. 4.School of ManagementLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  5. 5.Department of ManagementThe University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

Personalised recommendations