This study links and tests three strands of theory concerned with explaining individual differences in levels of professional burnout in general and among religious professionals in particular. These three strands concern the significance of current self-esteem, recalled self-esteem as a child, and personality. Data were provided by a sample of 1,278 male stipendiary parochial clergy working in the Church of England who completed the modified Maslach Burnout Inventory (specially designed for use among clergy), and the short-form Revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (designed to measure the personality dimensions of extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism), together with a semantic differential index of recalled self-esteem as a child. The bivariate correlation coefficients demonstrated significant associations between more positive self-esteem as a child and lower levels of professional burnout (higher personal accomplishment, lower emotional exhaustion and lower depersonalisation). The bivariate correlation coefficients also demonstrated significant associations between personality and professional burnout. Multiple regression analyses, however, demonstrated that the association between recalled self-esteem as a child and professional burnout largely disappeared after controlling for the personality variables. The conclusion is drawn that knowledge about the personality profile of clergy functions as a more secure predictor of susceptibility to professional burnout than knowledge about recalled self-esteem as a child
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