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International Handbook of Work and Health Psychology, 3rd Edition by Marc J. Schabracq, James C. Quick, Cary L. Cooper

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CHAPTER 2Health and Well-Being: The Role of the Psychological Contract

David Guest

King’s College London, UKand

Neil Conway

Birkbeck, University of London, UK

2.1 INTRODUCTION

The psychological contract has become a widely used analytic construct that has proved useful in explaining certain employee attitudes and work behaviour. In this chapter we describe how it has been used to explore a range of employee outcomes including aspects of health and well-being. The early sections of this chapter outline what is meant by the psychological contract and explain how it is potentially relevant to the study of health and well-being at work. We then present an analytic framework within which to review evidence about the association between the psychological contract and a range of employee outcomes. That evidence is drawn from a wide range of sources but we give some emphasis to recent work that has focused in particular on the link between the psychological contract and employee well-being. Finally, we consider some of the policies and practices that might affect the psychological contract and, through this, work-related health and well-being.

2.2 WHAT IS THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTRACT AND WHY IS IT RELEVANT TO THE STUDY OF EMPLOYEE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?

The use of the term ‘the psychological contract’ first emerged in the 1960s. Argyris (1960), Levinson et al. (1962) and Schein (1965), among others, used it to describe the informal and implicit understanding that arose between a worker ...

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