When there is a will there is a way: The role of proactive personality in combating COVID-19

Nancy Yi-Feng CHEN, J. Michael CRANT*, Nan WANG, Yu KOU, Yuhong QIN, Junhua YU, Rongju SUN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted personal and work lives and created great uncertainty and stress, especially for frontline health care professionals like doctors and nurses who risk personal health while facing increased workloads and new COVID-related tasks. People can passively respond to this disruption, or they can be more active and choose to shape the conditions surrounding their work during the crisis. We designed a multiwave, multisource study examining whether a proactive orientation is a key resource for frontline health care professionals in the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing from proactive and conservation of resources theories, we studied a sample of 408 doctors and nurses at a COVID-19 hospital in the locked-down area surrounding Wuhan City, China during the first wave of the virus. Our aim is to examine how personal agency contributes to health care professionals' performance and well-being when combating COVID-19. Proactive personality as a dispositional resource was associated with higher levels of perceived strengths use, a job-related motivational resource. This effect was jointly moderated by routine disruption and perceived organizational support. Proactive personality was indirectly associated with performance and two indicators of well-being (resilience and thriving) through perceived strengths use. More frequent physical exposure to the virus magnified the effects of perceived strengths use on an archival indicator of performance during the first wave of the pandemic. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-213
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Nancy Yi-Feng Chen, J. Michael Crant, and Nan Wang contributed equally to this study. This research was supported by a Faculty Research Grant from Lingnan University’s Research Committee (Project Number: DB20A9) to the first author. We thank Lina Yu, Wenjuan Hu, and Junfeng Cheng from Ezhou Central Hospital for their assistance with this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • COVID-19
  • conservation of resources
  • proactive personality
  • strengths use
  • well-being


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