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Talk about being stuck in a rut. It’s bad enough when you are unemployed, but what do you do when being unemployed might indirectly be the very reason discouraging bosses from hiring you?
According to a study published in the American Psychological Association, unemployment could cause changes in one’s core personalities: people can become less conscientious, agreeable and open when they fall into unemployment. This might pose a challenge for them when in search for jobs.
The study performed standard personality tests on 6,769 Germans at two points over four years. 210 of them were unemployed for periods ranging from one to four years and 251 were unemployed for less than a year and subsequently found jobs.
It highlighted both women and men became less agreeable after a period of one and two years of losing their jobs respectively.
Interestingly, agreeableness of men increased slightly in their first two years of unemployment, compared to those who never lost their jobs.However, after that, their agreeableness levels began to diminish and were found to be essentially lower than men who kept their jobs. As for women, their agreeableness dropped with each year of unemployment.
Researchers inferred that incentives, such as securing a new job or placating those around them, may be present in the early stages of unemployment, causing an increase in agreeableness.
In addition, openness levels in women plummeted in their second and third years without a job, rebounding in the fourth year of unemployment. While the levels of openness remained fairly steady in the first year of unemployment for men, decreasing steadily with the increase in the years of unemployment.
“Although unemployment is likely to have precipitated personality change, the results suggest that personality rebounds upon re-employment,” Christopher J. Boyce, lead author of the study, said.
“The results challenge the idea that our personalities are ‘fixed’ and show that the effects of external factors such as unemployment can have large impacts on our basic personality,” said Boyce. “This indicates that unemployment has wider psychological implications than previously thought.”
He added policies to reduce unemployment are therefore vital not only to protect the economy but also to enable positive personality growth in individuals.
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