“Industrial-organizational psychologists have extensively studied the concept of work overload and the burnout that comes it, and I thought it would be interesting to see what they’ve found.”
An interesting (short) piece highlighting the results of 6 different studies into crunch (or “burnout” as it’s apparently called in psych circles).
The conclusions seem to be pretty clear:
“The relationship between performance and burnout has almost always relied on questionable self-report data, but just about every expert agrees that it’s there and a few studies have shown it directly. For example, one8 that found burnout made cops more likely to unnecessarily beat the daylights out of civilians. ”
(Seen any examples of physical violence in games studios? It’s a pretty common story (told in the pub, years after the fact, once people get over the horror, I suspect)).
There’s also a neat categorization of the different “kinds” of damage that crunch/burnout can produce; anyone who’s been through bad crunch will nod their head at number 2 below – but it rarely gets mentioned as a primary issue. I think that’s because the non-psychologists are afraid that it’s just a perception, not a real problem. Interesting that the studies put a real emphasis on it (and this makes me start to re-think my own experiences; how many of our studio’s LONG TERM problems could – with hindsight – be laid at the feet of “cynicism that goes too far”? Hmm…)
“a review of the predictors … noted … that there are three facets of burnout in the workplace: