Results of a cross-lagged path model with structural equation modeling revealed that passion predicted changes in outcomes whereas outcomes did not predict changes in passion
Research addressing these two goals has focused on one type of psychological ill-being, namely burnout. In line with past research on passion and affective experiences, it was felt that harmonious (but not obsessive) passion should be conducive to the affective experience of work satisfaction that should play a protective role in burnout. With respect to obsessive passion, one likely mediator of its contributory effect should be the psychological conflict experienced between the passionate activity (work) and other life activities (e.g., family activities).
Because with obsessive passion one experiences an uncontrollable urge to engage in the passionate activity, it becomes very difficult for the person to fully disengage from thoughts about the activity (or from engaging in the activity altogether), leading to conflict with other activities in the person’s life. Such conflict can prevent the person from engaging in other life pursuits. The person thus remains mentally stale which ). In addition, because obsessive passion is typically unrelated to positive affective experiences both during task engagement in the passionate activity (work) and in other life pursuits outside of it, obsessive passion does not trigger the protective function against ill-being like harmonious passion does. Conversely, with harmonious passion, the person can let go of the passionate activity after task engagement and fully immerse in other life pursuits without experiencing conflict between the two.
In line with the above reasoning, two studies (Vallerand et al. 2010, Studies 1 and 2) were conducted with professional nurses from two cultures (France and Quebec, Canada). In Study 1, 100 nurses from France completed scales assessing passion for their work, psychological conflict, work satisfaction, and burnout. The results from structural equation modeling analyses are displayed in Figure 3 . It can be seen that the model was supported, even when controlling for the weekly number of hours worked. Specifically, obsessive passion facilitated the experience of burnout through the psychological conflict it induces between work and other life activities. On the other hand, harmonious passion prevented the experience of conflict and contributed to the experience of work satisfaction, thereby protecting the person from experiencing burnout. These findings were replicated in a second study using a prospective design with nurses from the Province of Quebec (Vallerand et al. 2010, Study 2), allowing us to predict changes in burnout over a six-month period. Thus, although additional research is clearly needed, it would appear that harmonious passion can serve protective functions against psychological ill-being. Conversely, obsessive passion seems to contribute to ill-being through the conflict it creates between the passionate activity (work) and other life activities that may help the person to replenish themselves.
Thus, harmonious passion should allow the person to experience affective rewards both during task engagement in the passionate activity as well as in other life pursuits, thereby protecting the person against burnout
Two caveats are in order. First, one may suggest that some personality or individual differences underlies the distinction between the two types of passion and is responsible for the various effects of passion on well-being. While this is possible, recent unpublished research from two different labs (Balon et al. 2010; Vallerand et al. 2012) shows that the two types of passion are only weakly related to some of the Big 5 personality dimensions and unrelated to the others. Thus, it would appear unlikely that personality is responsible for the observed effects with passion. A second caveat is that research conducted on passion and outcomes has been largely correlational in nature. Thus, the issue of causality needs attention. One study has attempted to shed some light on this issue. In this study (Carbonneau et al. 2008), a cross-lagged panel design was used where 500 teachers were asked to complete measures of passion toward teaching as well as measures of psychological measures of well-being (work satisfaction) and ill-being (burnout) twice over a 3-month period. Passion, then, would appear to be involved in producing changes in psychological outcomes, whereas the reverse may not be true. Clearly, additional research using an experimental design is necessary before one can firmly conclude that passion causes outcomes. However, results from the Carbonneau et al. (2008) study suggest that this may be the case.