It appears that long-term unemployment has a way of developing someone’s personality traits in a way that he/she may not overcome for the rest of his/her life. By and large, researchers described how one’s main personality traits get influenced by the period of time one is unemployed.
The five traits they referred to are: extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. The latter 3 are particularly affected by unemployment but on a gradual scale, as far as the needed time for development is required.
“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. This indicates that unemployment has wider psychological implications than previously thought. (…) In early unemployment stages, there may be incentives for individuals to behave agreeably in an effort to secure another job or placate those around them but in later years when the situation becomes endemic, such incentives may weaken,”
Researcher Christopher Boyce of the University of Stirling in Scotland said.
In other words the more one stays unemployed, the less agreeable one becomes. The research was based on one standard personality test that was given 6,769 German adults, including 3,733 men and 3,036 women. Out of them all, 210 were unemployed.
All of the subjects had taken a Big Five personality test in 2006. This test stands for the following personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, openness and conscientiousness. Apart from this their employment status was tracked throughout the course of four years, at the end of which they took the Big Five personality inventory again. And changes didn’t fail to show.
It appears that, for men, in spite of the fact that an unemployed individual’s levels of agreeableness tend to increase during the first two years of not having work, but these levels significantly drop afterwards. On the other hand, women’s agreeableness seems to constantly decline from the point when they loose their jobs.
As far as conscientiousness is concerned it initially rose for unemployed women before starting the imminent decline, but it fell among men throughout their unemployment on a constant base.
Boyce urged members of society to have more compassion for the ones who are unable to find a job because of changes that are often beyond their control and have nothing to do with their actual working abilities.