Different impacts of hedonic and utilitarian personal Internet usage behaviour on well-being and work engagement: A daily examination

Yolanda Na Li, Kenneth S. Law, Bingjie Yu*, Lin Wang, Dandan Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Past research suggests that personal Internet usage (PIU) at work can carry both costs and benefits for employees, but offers no explanation for these mixed results. In this research, we argue that the competing findings might be due to the existence of different types of PIU. We take a daily approach and propose that hedonic PIU (HPIU, i.e. relaxing oneself) benefits employees' end-of-workday well-being and work engagement while utilitarian PIU (UPIU, i.e. solving others' problems) hinders their well-being and work engagement. We test our theorizing using three studies. In Study 1, we summarized previous PIU studies and relied on machine learning methods to classify the 618 PIU activities identified in prior studies. We found that prior research mixed HPIU and UPIU and might reach different conclusions. In Study 2, we condensed the PIU activity list in Study 1 and developed measurement scales of HPIU and UPIU. In Study 3, we analysed 1063 multi-wave daily inputs from 125 employees and found that on a daily basis, HPIU benefits employees' well-being by fostering a state of recovery, while UPIU impedes well-being and work engagement by inducing a state of depletion. Moreover, supervisor support for employees' personal behaviours strengthens the beneficial effect of HPIU.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

User-Defined Keywords

  • machine learning
  • personal Internet usage
  • supervisor support
  • well-being
  • work engagement

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