For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Work experiences and personality development in young adulthood"

by Roberts, Brent W; Caspi, Avshalom; Moffitt, Terrie E (2003)


This longitudinal study provides an analysis of the relationship between personality traits and work experiences with a special focus on the relationship between changes in personality and work experiences in young adulthood. Longitudinal analyses uncovered 3 findings. First, measures of personality taken at age 18 predicted both objective and subjective work experiences at age 26. Second, work experiences were related to changes in personality traits from age 18 to 26. Third, the predictive and change relations between personality traits and work experiences were corresponsive: Traits that "selected" people into specific work experiences were the same traits that changed in response to those same work experiences. The relevance of the findings to theories of personality development is discussed.

Key Passage

How do work experiences affect change in personality traits? The sociogenic model, which assumes that social structure shapes personality functioning (Inkeles & Levinson, 1963), is most often used as a guiding framework to address this question. Change in personality is thought to result from a person’s ongoing participation in social roles and the social interactions entailed therein (Aldwin & Levenson, 1994; Roberts & Caspi, in press). Individuals are assumed to change their behavior as they learn the norms associated with their work roles (Hogan & Roberts, 2000, Sarbin, 1964). Moreover, individuals forge their self-perceptions on the basis of feedback from peers in their social roles, an essential idea of symbolic interactionism (Stryker & Statham, 1985). (p.582)


Social Psychology, Personality, Personality Trait, Work Experiences, Personality Development, Personal Development


Psychological Centrality of Work

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