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Is your personality a good predictor of job satisfaction?


A recent study by researchers in the USA looked at whether personality is a good predictor of job satisfaction. And the results may surprise you.

According to research, personality only plays a small part in job satisfaction. Other factors, such as feedback, autonomy and experience are much more important when it comes to employees being satisfied in their work.

Is a solution-focused therapy that believes the client has all the resources needed to solve a problem

Recognizes that positive emotions broaden our attention and range of behavioral responses, making it easier to develop new thinking and outcomes

Uses questions that are more likely to elicit positive emotions rather than negative emotions

The concept of job satisfaction is probably one of the most researched areas of organizational psychology. This is probably because job satisfaction has been found to be a good indicator of motivation, intention to leave, work absence, commitment to a company, ability to cope with work-related stress and uncertainty, along with a range of other productivity factors.

Previous research found that low levels of job satisfaction leads to four main issues for organizations:

1. Negative employee attitudes that adversely affect job performance
2. Negative customer relationships and outcomes
3. Negative co-worker and worker/manager relationships including communication problems
4. Increased stress, absenteeism, burnout and dysfunctional behaviors, such as alcoholism

The study looked at a group of 87 police officers to see if there was a relationship between the level of job satisfaction staff reported using a standardized job satisfaction instrument called the Job Satisfaction Scale (JSS). Staff were then assessed on:

  • An instrument called the NEO-FFI – a personality indicator based on the big five personality traits
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Seniority/rank
  • Age
  • Years of experience
  • Level of education
  • Skill variety
  • Task identity
  • Task significance
  • Level of autonomy
  • Quality of feedback

Researchers discovered that:

  1. Against all expectations, not one of the personality characteristics significantly predicted job satisfaction. In fact, they found that only about 9% of overall job satisfaction was down to personality. This is fairly insignificant. Even the type and the importance of tasks were found not to be good predictors of job satisfaction.
  2. The only things that successfully and significantly predict job satisfaction are:

Feedback or the degree to which the employee receives clear information about their performance

The level of autonomy an individual has: the more an individual is free to make their own decisions, the more they will have a sense of responsibility and the higher the level of job satisfaction

Experience – Researchers found that people with 10-15 years’ service had the lowest levels of job satisfaction. Those just starting out and people with 15 or more years’ service displayed the greatest levels of job satisfaction

Miller, H. A., Mire, S., & Kim, B. (2016). Predictors of job satisfaction among police officers: Does personality matter? Journal of Criminal Justice, 37(5), 419-426.

Disclaimer: This is a research review and briefing. As such it contains other studies, expert comment, interpretation and practitioner advice. It is not a copy of the original study that is referenced. The original study should be consulted and referenced in all cases. This research briefing is for informational and educational purposes only. We do not accept any liability for the use to which this review and briefing is put or the research accuracy, reliability or validity. This briefing as an original work in its own right is copyright Oxford Review Enterprises Ltd. Any use made of this briefing is entirely at your own risk.

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