The Relationship between Compassion Experienced by Social Workers and Job Performance: The Double Mediating Effect of Positive Psychological Capital and Affective Commitment

Sung-Hoon Ko1, In Ae Ryu2, *, Yongjun Choi3
1 Graduate School of Education, Kyonggi University, Korea, South
2 Department of Agronomy, Graduate School of Applied Animal Science, Wonkwang University, Korea, South
3 College of Business Administration, Hongik University, Korea, South

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© 2022 Ko et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Agronomy, Graduate School of Applied Animal Science, Wonkwang University, Korea, South; E-mail:



Compassion at work is integral for employees experiencing suffering in a wide range of contexts. Especially, it could be more critical for social workers who have relatively high levels of emotional demands. Thus, this current study aims to explore the mechanisms through how the experiences of compassion at work enhance social workers’ job performance.


The participants were 356 social workers in South Korea. This study used a cross-sectional research design along with a self-report survey. Path analyses were used to test our hypotheses.


Compassion was positively related to positive psychological capital, and positive psychological capital was also positively related to affective commitment and job performance. In addition, we found that effective commitment was positively related to job performance. Accordingly, positive psychological capital mediated the positive relationships between compassion and affective commitment as well as compassion and job performance. Furthermore, the serial multiple mediation effect of positive psychological capital and affective commitment on the relationship between compassion and job performance was significant.


Our findings suggest that social workers engaged in social welfare facilities build positive psychological capital through compassion and make an affective commitment to their work, eventually improving their job performance. Our findings provide practical insights for organizations, especially social welfare organizations, by shedding light on the importance of spreading an empathetic and positive organizational culture in enhancing social workers’ job performance.

Keywords: Compassion, Positive psychological capital, Affective commitment, Job performance, Social workers, Positive psychology.