High income but high stress: cross over effects of work and family role conflict in professional athletes and their partners

Ying Lien Ni, Shih Chi Hsu, Che Chun Kuo, Mei Yen Chen, Lung Hung Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Professional athletes achieve success while experiencing tremendous stress from their work and family domains. However, few studies have examined stress among professional athlete couples to explore how professional athletes’ job stress and family demands influence their work-family interactions with their partners. The present study extends athlete stress research by exploring the specific stress events that interact with professional athletes’ family demands to understand work-family and family-work conflict in sports and ways to generate cross over effect between these couples. Semistructured interviews were conducted. Data were collected from seven professional athletes and their romantic partners (7 couples). A thematic analysis was utilised to interpret the transcripts. According to the results, specific stress events (e.g., lost games, sports injuries, requested trades, and unexpected retirement) and family demands (e.g., family responsibilities, financial worries, and raising children) contribute to athletes’ work and family role conflict. Moreover, this study interprets the dynamic process of cross over effects in professional athlete couples based on empathic reactions, common stressors, and family members’ indirect influencing. The results provide insight into how professional athletes’ work stress under unstable conditions influences both the interpersonal and intrapersonal levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-697
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Professional athlete couples
  • financial worries
  • job insecurity
  • thematic analysis
  • work stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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