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Mental Workload

Understanding the concept of mental load

Nowadays, there is a lot of discussion regarding increasing mental load in the working environment. However, mental load is not automatically harmful, nor should it be equated with mental illness.

Unfocused image of a person walking along a hallway  © Uwe Völkner, Fotoagentur FOX

First of all, mental load refers generally to the totality of external factors that affect us mentally. Unlike in its everyday meaning and somewhat counter-intuitively, mental load has to be understood as a neutral term.

Exposure

Referring to work, therefore, mental load is the combination of requirements arising from work activity and, as such, occurs in all activities and affects every individual. With this in mind, the aim is not to get rid of or eliminate mental load, but rather to shape it in terms of human work design.

Impact

The effects of mental load on individual workers are referred to as strain and can affect people in different ways. How well or badly a person copes with mental load depends on several factors. Besides the type, length, timing and intensity of mental load, individual’s preconditions and coping strategies also influence whether effects are positive or negative. There are stimulating or impairing effects either way. In the best case scenario, mental load leads to positive impacts of strain and contributes to individual’s health, well-being and professional development. In the worst case scenario, mental load results in adverse impacts of strain and jeopardises for example well-being and health, if it persists for a longer time.

Publications

Research Projects

Project numberF 2431 StatusOngoing Project Recovery within and beyond the context of work - effects and design approaches in a changing world of work

Find out more : Recovery within and beyond the context of work - effects and design approaches in a changing world of work …

Project numberF 2373 StatusOngoing Project Information overload at work - dealing with high volumes of information conveyed by electronic media (e-mail, internet)

Find out more : Information overload at work - dealing with high volumes of information conveyed by electronic media (e-mail, internet) …

Project numberF 2285 StatusCompleted Project Work intensity/time and performance pressure in the tertiary sector - developmental context and design possibilities within the work organization

Find out more : Work intensity/time and performance pressure in the tertiary sector - developmental context and design possibilities within the work organization …

Project numberF 2358 StatusOngoing Project How companies do psychosocial risk assessment

Find out more : How companies do psychosocial risk assessment …

Project numberF 2406 StatusOngoing Project Limiting and focusing as coping strategies for time and work pressure

Find out more : Limiting and focusing as coping strategies for time and work pressure …

Project numberF 2339 StatusCompleted Project Psychosocial risk management in the EU: Context, strategies and implementation at establishment level - a comparative European study

Find out more : Psychosocial risk management in the EU: Context, strategies and implementation at establishment level - a comparative European study …

Publications

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