For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The Reciprocal Effects of the Substantive Complexity of Work and Intellectual Flexibility: A Longitudinal Assessment"

by Kohn, Melvin L; Schooler, Carmi (1978)


Our previous research, based on cross-sectional data, provided prima facie evidence of a reciprocal relationship between the substantive complesity of men's work and their intellectual flexibility. The present study employs longitudinal data to make a more definitive assessment. Using maximum-likelihood confirmatory factor analysis to separate measurement error from real change, it develops measurement models for both substantive complexity and intellectual flexibility. These models whos that, over a 10-year time span, the "stability" of both variables, shorn of measurment error, is high, that of intellectual flexibility specially so. Nevertheless, a structural equation causal analysis demonstrates that the effect of the substantive complexity of work on intellectual flexibility is real and remarkably strong-on the order of one-fourth is great as the effect of men's earlier levels of intellectual flexibility on their present intellectual flexibility. The reciprocal effect of intellectual flexibility on substantive complexity is even more pronounced. This effect, however, is not contemporaneous but, rather, a lagged effect occurring more gradually over time.

Key Passage

doi: 10.1086/226739 ()


Flexibility, Gendered Labour, Intellectual Labour, Sociology, Psychology, Social Psychology


Psychological Centrality of Work

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