STRAUSS Karoline, El Mansouri Mouna, Fay Doris, Smith Julia
Organizations are increasingly expecting individuals to engage in task proactivity, that is, to find better ways of doing their job. While prior research has demonstrated the benefits of task proactivity, little is known about its cognitive costs. To investigate this issue, we build theory on how task proactivity affects end-of-day cognitive performance. We propose that task proactivity involves deviating from established ways of working and engaging in cognitively demanding activities requiring high levels of mental effort, which manifest as an erosion of end-of-day cognitive performance. In two daily diary studies, we found that individuals engaging in task proactivity experience lower end-of-day cognitive performance (Study 1 over five consecutive workdays: n = 163, k = 701; Study 2 with multiple daily assessments over seven consecutive workdays: n = 93, k = 471), even when controlling for task performance (Study 1) and beginning-of-day cognitive performance (Study 2). In two experiments, we then show that simulating task proactivity results in greater mental effort and lower routineness but not in greater ego depletion (Study 3: N = 318 and Study 4: N = 319) or increased self-control demands, -effort, or -motivation (Study 4). This provides support for our proposed cognitive pathway. Our findings enhance our understanding of the cognitively demanding nature of task proactivity and provide empirical support for its cognitive costs using a mental fatigue lens. They also suggest that the impact of a cognitively demanding activity like task proactivity may persist throughout the day and carry over to other tasks involving cognitive performance.
EL MANSOURI, M., STRAUSS, K., FAY, D. et SMITH, J. (2024). The cognitive cost of going the extra mile: How striving for improvement relates to cognitive performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, In press, pp.