Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Barber, Larissa K.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Work--Psychological aspects


Recovery from work is thought to occur outside of the workplace. However, employees may have the opportunity to recover within the work day via micro-breaks, or short momentary breaks during demanding work tasks. Two strategies for mitigating fatigue include psychological detachment and replenishing motivational incentives via positive affect. This study examined whether recovery was possible during a work task and to what extent different break content facilitated later performance. In an experimental study, 201 students were randomly assigned to receiving a relaxation micro-break (n = 63), a mastery micro-break (n = 68), or no break (n = 72) in the middle of a monotonous work task to compare their effects on subsequent work performance. Overall, these data suggest that micro-breaks indeed resulted in improved task performance and within-task recovery, but only affected psychological detachment processes. There was no effect of micro-breaks on positive affect compared to a no-break group. Also, although mastery breaks resulted in more psychological detachment than relaxation breaks, it did not translate into performance differences based on micro-break type. These results build on existing recovery theories by further demonstrating within-task recovery, and suggest future work should include mastery activities in exploring recovery during the workday.


Advisors: Larissa K. Barber.||Committee members: James Burton; Alecia Santuzzi.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


63 pages




Northern Illinois University

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