Work addiction and its association with personality traits, general distress, and self-esteem among adult Italian workers

Paolo Soraci, Mark D Griffiths, Francesco M Melchiori, Giulia Bravo, Eleonora Guaitoli, Elena Del Fante, Lara Scali, Francesco Grieco, Roberta Cimaglia, Carla Di Bernardo, Renato Pisanti


Background: Work addiction has become a topic of increasing research interest but has been little studied in Italy. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the associations between work addiction, assessed with a recently validated psychometric scale (i.e., Italian version of Bergen Work Addiction Scale, [BWAS]) and other psychological constructs.

Methods: The sample comprised 367 Italian workers (Mean 16.11 years; SD±11.28) who completed a survey including the BWAS (Mean 19.422; SD±6.365), Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21 (Mean 40.866; SD±29.865), Dutch Workaholism Scale (Mean 24.837; SD±6.488), Need for Recovery Scale (Mean 12.946; SD±7.340), Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI, Extraversion (Mean 4.253; SD±1.506); Agreeableness (Mean 5.431; SD±1.111), Conscientiousness (Mean 5.792; SD±1.067), Neuroticism (Mean 4.507; SD±1.480), Openness (Mean 4.801; SD±1.122), and Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (Mean 21.850; SD±6.796).

Results: The results indicated that work addiction was positively associated with stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as with the number of hours worked and need for recovery. Moreover, BWAS scores explained 20.1% of an individual’s general psychological distress (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress). Personality variables explained only a small amount of the variance in work addiction (15.4%). Conclusion: In the present study, a positive and significant association was found between the BWAS (assessing work addiction) and the DUWAS (assessing workaholism). Although work addiction and workaholism are different constructs, they have many characteristics in common. The study expands the work addiction literature base and demonstrates important associating factors in the Italian context.


Work addiction; Workaholism; Personality; Self-esteem; Psychological distress; Clinical psychology.

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