"How our work influences who we are: Testing a theory of vocational and personality development over fifty years"
This study examines the developmental influences of occupational environments on personality traits from childhood to adulthood. We test aspects of a theory of vocational and personality development, proposing that traits develop in response to work experience following corresponsive and noncorresponsive mechanisms. We describe these pathways in the context of situations of vocational gravitation and inhabitation. In a sample from the Hawaii personality and health cohort (N = 596), we examined associations of childhood and adulthood personality traits, with occupational environments profiled on the RIASEC model. Mediations tests confirmed that work influenced personality development from childhood to adulthood for Openness/Intellect. We observed multiple reactivity effects of occupation environments on adulthood traits that were not associated with corresponding selection effects.
The presence of corresponsive and noncorresponsive effects suggests that the selection of work environments is important with respect to long term personality development, something that those entering the workforce may be unlikely to consider. As such, our work has bearing on how individuals might approach important career decisions and suggests that more longitudinal research focusing on this question is needed. (p.8)
KeywordsPersonality Development, Personality Trait Change, Vocational Development, Corresponsive Mechanism, Person-Environment Fit, Trait Activation
ThemesPsychological Centrality of Work
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