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Is There a Two-Way Relationship Between Cynicism and Job Strain? Evidence From a Prospective Population-Based Study

Törnroos, Maria MA; Elovainio, Marko PhD; Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa PhD; Hintsa, Taina PhD; Pulkki-Råback, Laura PhD; Hakulinen, Christian PhD; Merjonen, Päivi PhD; Theorell, Töres PhD; Kivimäki, Mika PhD; Raitakari, Olli T. PhD; Hintsanen, Mirka PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 5 - p 479–484
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000430
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the bidirectional relationship between job strain and cynicism.

Methods: The study sample was obtained from the Young Finns study and comprised 757 participants (399 women, 53%). The bidirectional association between cynicism and job strain over a 6-year-follow-up was examined with a cross-lagged structural equation model, controlling for a number of demographic variables.

Results: High job strain (β = 0.08; P = 0.007) was associated with higher baseline-adjusted cynicism 6 years later. Nevertheless, cynicism was not associated with baseline-adjusted job strain. The additional analysis showed that cynicism mediated 21.5% of the relationship between job strain and depression.

Conclusions: Perceptions of having a highly strenuous job may elicit mistrustful and cynical attitudes in employees, which in turn may lead to mental health problems.

From IBS (Ms Törnroos, Dr Elovainio, Dr Keltikangas-Järvinen, Dr Hintsa, Dr Pulkki-Råback, Dr Hakulinen, Dr Merjonen, Dr Kivimäki, and Dr Hintsanen), Unit of Personality, Work and Health Psychology, University of Helsinki; National Institute for Health and Welfare (Dr Elovainio); Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (Dr Pulkki-Råback), Work and Mental Health Unit, Helsinki, Finland; Department of Biological Psychology (Dr Merjonen), VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Karolinska Institutet (Dr Theorell); Stress Research Institute (Dr Theorell), University of Stockholm, Sweden; Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (Dr Kivimäki), University College London, United Kingdom; Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine (Dr Raitakari), University of Turku; Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine (Dr Raitakari), Turku University Hospital; and Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Dr Hintsanen), University of Helsinki, Finland.

Address correspondence to: Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, PhD, IBS, Unit of Personality, Work and Health Psychology, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 9, FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland (

This study has been supported by the National Doctoral Programme of Psychology (Academy of Finland) (MT), the Academy of Finland projects 128002 (ME) and 258578 (MH), the Finnish Work Environment Fund (ME), the Juho Vainio Foundation (LP-R), the Alfred Kordelin Foundation (PM), the Finnish Cultural Foundation (PM), the Economic and Social Research Council (MK), the Emil Aaltonen Foundation (MH), and the Signe & Ane Gyllenberg Foundation (MH). The Young Finns Study has been supported by the Academy of Finland: grants 134309 (Eye), 126925, 121584, 124282, 129378 (Salve), 117797 (Gendi), and 41071 (Skidi), the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospital Medical Funds, the Juho Vainio Foundation, the Paavo Nurmi Foundation, the Finnish Foundation of Cardiovascular Research and the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation, and the Emil Aaltonen Foundation. The funding sources had no involvement in the study design, analysis, interpretation of the data, writing of the report, or decision to submit the article for publication.

Authors Törnroos, Elovainio, Keltikangas-Järvinen, Hintsa, Pulkki-Råback, Hakulinen, Merjonen, Theorell, Kivimäki, Raitakari, and Hintsanen have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine