The dark side of conscientiousness: conscientious people experience greater drops in life satisfaction following unemployment

Christopher J. Boyce, Alex M. Wood, Gordon D.A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conscientious individuals tend to achieve more and have higher well-being. This has led to a view that conscientiousness is always positive for well-being. We hypothesize that conscientiousness could be detrimental to well-being when failure is experienced, such as when individuals become unemployed. 

In a 4-year longitudinal study of 9570 individuals interviewed yearly we show that the drop in an individual's life satisfaction following unemployment is significantly moderated by their conscientiousness. After 3. years of unemployment individuals high in conscientiousness (i.e. one standard deviation above the mean) experience a 120% higher decrease in life satisfaction than those at low levels. Thus the positive relationship typically seen between conscientiousness and well-being is reversed: conscientiousness is therefore not always good for well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-539
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Conscientiousness
  • Subjective well-being
  • Unemployment

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