Testing whether reduced cognitive performance in burnout can be reversed by a motivational intervention
SourceWork and Stress, 25, 3, (2011), pp. 257-271
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI BO
SW OZ BSI KLP
SW OZ DCC NRP
Work and Stress
SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory; Experimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
It has been suggested that the motivation to spend effort is decreased in burnout patients, resulting in reduced cognitive performance. A question that remains is whether this decreased motivation can be reversed by motivational interventions. We investigated this by examining the effect of a motivational intervention on cognitive performance. We presented 40 burnout patients in The Netherlands and 40 matched healthy controls with a complex attention task. As expected, in a first block of trials the performance of the burnout patients was poorer than that of healthy controls. Subsequently, we provided the participants with fake positive feedback about their performance and announced that we would financially reward those who performed best in a subsequent block of trials. Contrary to the healthy controls, the burnout patients did not improve their performance and experienced more aversion to spend effort. The study demonstrated that impaired cognitive performance in burnout patients could not be reversed by motivational interventions, which is in line with contemporary theories on burnout that state that physiological changes in burnout may underlie a relatively long-term decrease in motivation. The implication of these results is that in practice employers and therapists might need to accept that there could be a reduction in cognitive performance in employees with burnout.
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