Joblessness can change people's core personalities
A new study has examined that unemployment can change peoples-' core personalities, making some less conscientious, agreeable and open, which may make...
Washington: A new study has examined that unemployment can change peoples' core personalities, making some less conscientious, agreeable and open, which may make it difficult for them to find new jobs.
Christopher J. Boyce, PhD, of the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom, said that the results challenge the idea that their personalities are "fixed" and showed that the effects of external factors such as unemployment could have large impacts on one's basic personality.
Boyce and his colleagues examined a sample of 6,769 German adults (3,733 men and 3,036 women) who took a standard personality test at two points over four years, from 2006-2009. Of this group, 210 were unemployed for anywhere from one to four years during the experiment; another 251 of them were unemployed less than a year but then got jobs.
The researchers looked at the so-called "Big Five" personality traits i.e. conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion and openness. They found that men experienced increased agreeableness during the first two years of unemployment, compared to men who never lost their jobs but after two years, the agreeableness levels of the unemployed men began to diminish and, in the long run, were lower than those of the men with jobs. For women, agreeableness declined with each year of unemployment.
According to the study, unemployed men showed steady levels of openness in their first year of joblessness, but the levels decreased the longer they were unemployed. Women, in contrast, showed sharp reductions in openness in the second and third years of unemployment but rebounded in year four.
The study suggested that the effect of unemployment across society is more than just an economic concern i.e. the unemployed may be unfairly stigmatized as a result of unavoidable personality change, potentially creating a downward cycle of difficulty in the labor market.
The study is published in APA's Journal of Applied Psychology.