The usage of primary or secondary control in managing the stress created by interpersonal conflicts in the workplace

The form/sampling set-up is very logical and easy-to-understand.

Simon Au Young

At a Glance

  • Location: Hong Kong, China
  • Date: 07.06.2013
  • Institution: Education University of Hong Kong
  • Web Page:


  • Context: -
  • Number of participants: 30
  • Number of days per participants: 7
  • Number of prompst per Day: 5
  • Number of Items: 30


Occupational stress is an everyday and worldwide issue to most of the working population. No exception to those working in Hong Kong, managers in Hong Kong also experienced a high level of occupational stress. Among various occupational stressors, interpersonal conflict at workplace is deemed as a leading source of stress for working people across countries, cultures, occupations, genders and ages. In the context of motivational theory of life-span development, individual is viewed as a goal-oriented and active agent in shaping one’s life-course and development (Heckhausen, 2010). In the process of development, self-regulation is a person’s key ability in managing his/her own emotions, cognitions and behaviors. Heckhausen and Schulz (1995) identified that individuals are striving for their goals and so targeting towards the well-being through a combination of two self-regulatory processes: primary control and secondary control. Primary control refers to the exercise of control over outside world so that it fits for individuals’ desire outcomes whereas secondary control refers to the attempts to adjust the inner world so as to better fit the demands from outside world. The primary aim of this study is to investigate the usage of primary or secondary control in managing the stress created by interpersonal conflicts in the workplace.

This is a corelational study with repeated measure. The study period for each participant is 7 days and 5 measures daily. The focus is on what the predominant control strategies – primary or secondary – the senior executive (e.g., Senior Managers, Directors or CEO) and the junior executives (Assistant Managers and Officers) will employ to manage the stress generating from workplace interpersonal conflict. The target participants are the full time employees in the fashion related field (e.g., fashion retail, wholesale, merchandising or marketing). An estimate of a total of 30 full time employees will participant in this study. The age is expected to be around 25 to 49.

This study aims to answer 4 questions. The questions are:

1) What are the effects of occupational stress (interpersonal conflict) on employees at different occupational levels in organizations?

2) Do junior employees experience from more stress (interpersonal conflict) than senior employees?

3) How do control strategies affect employees at different occupational levels?

4) Are there any occupational level differences in the endorsement of control strategies?

The related hypotheses are:

1) Interpersonal conflict at work is positively correlated with an employee’s negative affect

2) The senior executive will rely more on the primary control strategy in managing interpersonal conflict

3) The junior executive will rely more on the secondary control strategy in managing interpersonal conflict

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