Work-Family Dynamic

Work-Family Dynamic: IELTS Academic Reading Sample Question

The passage contains following question types from IELTS Reading Question Types:

  • Matching Information,
  • True False Not Given Questions,
  • Multiple Choice Question.

Work-Family Dynamic

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-14 which are based on Reading Passage.

A. Political and family values within society have impacted upon the modern family structure. Traditionally, it has been the man’s role to be the breadwinner for the family – providing the funds to pay for food and shelter. However, due to the many new and unique responsibilities placed upon families, in numerous cases both men and women – fathers and mothers – have had to enter the workforce. Generally, the reasons for both being involved in the workforce revolve around the need to add to the family’s current financial base. To a lesser extent, the need to interact with ‘adults’ in a stimulating work environment is another popular reason. Whatever their reasons, for many families, the decision for father and mother to go out of the home and join the labour force has led to a number of side effects within the home which, in turn, impact upon their performance as employees.

B. Many researchers agree that attitudes towards work are carried over into family life. This spillover can be positive or negative. Positive spillover refers to the spread of satisfaction and positive stimulation at work resulting in high levels of energy and satisfaction at home. If the amount of research is to be taken as an indication, it would seem that positive spillover is not a dominant occurrence in the workplace with most research focussing on the effects of negative spillover. Often pointing out the incompatible nature of work and family life, the research focuses on problems and conflict at work which has the effect of draining and preoccupying the individual, making it difficult for him or her to participate fully in family life.

C. Social scientists have devised a number of theories in an attempt to explain the work-family dynamic. Compensation theory is one which has been widely used. It assumes that the relationship between work and family is negative by pointing out that high involvement in one sphere – invariably the work sphere – leads to low involvement in the other. As an individual advances within a career, demands typically fluctuate from moderate to more demanding and if the advancing worker has younger children, this shift in work responsibilities will usually manifest itself in the form of less time spent with the family. Researchers subscribing to this theory point out that the drain on family time is significantly related to work-family conflict with an escalation in conflict as the number of family members increase.

D. The human state is one of change. In exploring the work-family dynamic it can be clearly seen that as the pattern of adult development for men and women differs and as family and career demands fluctuate, individuals may link work and family roles differently at different stages of their life. Hence, the relationship between work and family is constantly changing over a person’s life. The developmental approach therefore adopts a psychological- developmental framework to explore the dynamics of the relationship between individual, family, and career developments in the life-span of a worker.

E. Interpersonal ‘climates’ influence motivation of family and work-related activities. Within the family, the feeling of being valued by one’s partner directly affects a person’s self-determination, while at the same time within the workplace, the feeling of being ‘autonomy-supported’ by one’s employer has been shown to have a positive effect on one’s self-determined motivation towards wfork-related activities. Studies built on the theory of self-determination therefore point out that if people have abundant levels of self-determination, participation in those areas will most often result in desirable outcomes.

F. Segmentation theory proposes that work and family are actually two entirely separate domains and individuals are able to maintain a clear demarcation between the two. Theorists subscribing to this view maintain that emotions, attitudes and behaviours enlisted in the two different environments are separate and will not have any impact upon work or family. While this theory is certainly applicable for some, apparently not all men and women are able to neatly divide the two experiences. Winthrope points out that, “Even though a woman may enter the workforce, research has shown that within the context of  the family, the care of her husband and children as well as the living quarters is still heavily the woman’s domain.” This kind of idea is tied up in the old adage; a woman’s place is in the home. She is seen as the one who takes care of all domestic duties whereas, stereorypically, it is the man who brings home the food for the family. The degree to which this is felt is certainly based upon societal expectations and behavioural norms. Despite this, there has been no positive link shown that one sex experiences greater difficulty in managing work-family conflicts over another.

G. Perhaps the most positive relation that could be established between work and family conflict was in regard to irregular work hours. Factors such as having to work on weekends, having to work longer than nine hours per day or having to work during vacation periods all added to the conflict dynamic. Additionally, rank or position and thus expectations of workers and time demands all showed a negative impact upon family and work relations. Many have conducted empirical research in relation to work-family conflict and job satisfaction with significantly varying results. However, one generally recognised outcome about which few researchers disagree is that when work-family conflict arises, job satisfaction decreases.

Question 1-4

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

1)  The main reason fathers and mothers join the workforce is
A. they want to escape the boring environment of home.
B. they want to be able to retire comfortably.
C. they need extra money.
D. they need the mature interaction that goes on between adults.

2)  ‘Spillover’ is
A. mostly positive when it comes to the workplace.
B. a term researchers use to describe work life.
C. a dominant area of scientific research.
D. a term which relates to how work life affects family life.

3)  I he significance of Winth rope’s comment is that working women
A. should not do the work of men.
B. are heavily relied upon to do household duties.
C. should not work outside of the home.
D. leave household work for their husbands to do.

4)  Regarding work and family the writer concludes that
A. work itself plays an important role in job satisfaction.
B. more empirically-based theories are yet to be offered by researchers.
C. family relationships have a significant effect upon job satisfaction.
D. work and family are best kept separate from each other.

Question 5-8

Look at the following list of theories (Questions 5-8) and the list of definitions below.
Match each theory with its related idea.
Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 5-8on your answer sheet.

5) Segmentation
6) Self-determination
7) Compensation
8) Developmental

A. family and career remain essentially changeless
B. work and family are totally unrelated
C. the relationship between work and family is constantly changing
D. negative working environments hurt work performance
E. high levels lead to positive work and family outcomes
F. family duties tend to dominate work duties
G. determined people tend to have successful families
H. high work involvement results in family neglect

Question 9-13

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Reading Passage?
In boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet write

TRUE                      if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE                     if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN            if there is no information on this

9) Lack of money is the main reason both fathers and mothers enter the workforce.
10) Conflict between work and family increases according to the size of the family.
11) High income earners balance work and family life better than low income earners.
12) Men handle work stresses better than women.
13) Work-family conflict is due largely to constant changes in work hours.

Question 14

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write your answer in box 14 on your answer sheet.

14) What is the best title for Reading Passage?
A. Family relationships and job promotion.
B. The psychological effects of work.
C. Theories on family and work.
D. Work-family conflict and job satisfaction.

Answers for IELTS Reading Sample Question

1) C
Remember that multiple choice questions follow the order of the passage.
Locate the key words in the question: ‘fathers, mothers, join, workforce”.
Search for these key words and/or synonyms.
Locate “… the reasons for both being involved in the workforce revolve around the need to add to the family’s current financial base.”

2)  D
Remember that multiple choice questions follow the order of the passage.
Locate the key word, “spillover”.
Find in paragraph B that spillover refers to how “… attitudes toward work are carried over into family life.”

3)  B
Remember that multiple choice questions follow the order of the passage.
Locate the key word, ’Winthrope”.
Find in paragraph F that Winthrope said, “Even though a woman may enter the workforce… the care of her husband and children and living quarters (home) is… (her) domain”

4)  C
Remember that multiple choice questions follow the order of the passage.
Locate the key word concludes. This means the answer will probably be in the final paragraph
Locate the words “Work-family conflict has a significantly negative impact upon job satisfaction*

5)  B
Scan for the key words, “segmentation theory” – once located, read in detail for the meaning.
Regarding segmentation theory’ paragraph F states, “Segmentation theory proposes that work and family are actually two entirely separate domains…’

6)  E
Scan for the key words, “self-determination theory” – once located, read in detail for the meaning.
Regarding self-determination theory paragraph E states, “Studies built on the theory of self-determination therefore point out that if people have abundant levels of self- determination, participation in those areas will most often result in desirable outcomes.”

7) H
Scan for the key words, ‘compensation theory’ – once located, read in detail for the meaning.
Regarding compensation theory paragraph C states, “Compensation theory… assumes that the relationship between work and family is negative by pointing out that high involvement in one sphere… leads to low involvement in the other…”

8) C
Scan for the key words, ‘developmental theory” – once located, read in detail for the meaning.
Regarding developmental theory paragraph D states, ‘the relationship between work and family is constantly changing over a person’s life. The developmental approach therefore… exploréis) the dynamics of the relationship between individual, family, and career developments in the life-span of a worker…”

9) T
locate key words in the question and scan for them
key words are lack of money, father, mother, enter workforce
once located, read in detail to determine if it is a main reason’
locate the words,’… the reasons for both (father and mother) being involved in the workforce revolve around the need to add to the family’s current financial base”

10) T
locate the key words in the question and scan for them
key words are conflict, increases, size, family
once located, read in detail to find,”… drain on family time is significantly related to work-family conflict with an escalation in conflict as the number of family members increase.

11) NC
There is nothing in the passage about this!

12) F
locate the key words in the question and scan for them
key words are men, handle better, stresses, women
once located, read in detail to find,”… Despite this, there has been no positive link shown that one sex experiences greater difficult)’ in managing work-family conflicts over another.

13) T
locate the key words in the question and scan for them
key words are irregular work hours, main reason, family conflictLocate the words, ‘Perhaps the most positive relation that could be established between work and conflict was in regard to irregular work hours.”

14) D
This question is testing your overall comprehension of the passage.
You should have taken notice as you read of the key ideas (by circling key words and making notes in the margin of key ideas).
All the ideas presented relate to work, family, conflict and job satisfaction.
The only answer which includes all these elements is ‘D’

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