The relationship among personality, perception, and job preference
Berger, Edward H.
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This study investigated the relationship between personality, perceived need satisfaction, and job area preference. Since the early 1950's theoretical interest in vocational psychology has focussed, in part, on the role of personality determinants in occupational choice. A number of major lines of research developed, primarily using early family environment, elements of psychoanalytic theory, and need-strength patterns as the personality dimensions. Although most studies have found significant differences among personality characteristics of persons in different occupations, there has been a paucity of any integrative theorizing to synthesize these results. Moreover, the relationship between personality and occupational choice is usually of low correlation, and many "external" demographic factors seem to be more important. It was felt that, to overcome some of these objections, by decreasing the "conceptual distance" between the dependent and independent variables more powerful and intrinsic relationships could be found. To this end, instead of using occupational choice, job area preference was used as the dependent variable. Need strength, as measured by the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule, was the personality dimension. Perception of the area as need satisfying was a second independent variable. This was measured by a Nursing Questionnaire designed for this study. The following three hypotheses were tested: 1. Job area preference is related to personality need strength. 2. Perception of need satisfaction in the most preferred area is related to personality need strength. 3. Job area preference is related to the interaction of personality need strength and perceived need satisfaction in the most preferred area. The major interest of this study was to demonstrate that the interaction between personality and perceived need satisfaction is a better predictor of job area preference than either personality or perceived need satisfaction alone. The sample consisted of 137 female, senior, student nurses enrolled in hospital-affiliated, diploma programs. Each nurse ranked twelve in-hospital nursing areas on the dimension of most to least preferred to work in as a first year staff nurse. These rankings were subjected to a factor analysis by which six job area preference groups were obtained. The Nursing Questionnaire consisted of twelve scales which were rated by 11 judges as to which needs they seem to reflect. These needs were congruent to 12 of the EPPS need scales. Hypothesis I. was confirmed. Job area preference is related to personality need strength. On the EPPS this sample of nurses, as a whole, gave a significantly different profile from that of college women norms. Personality differences were found among certain preference groups. Hypothesis II was confirmed. Perception of need satisfaction in the most preferred area is related to personality need strength. Hypothesis III was confirmed. On the basis of a Multiple Group Discriminant Analysis the interaction between personality (as measured by the EPPS) and perceived need satisfaction (as measured by the Nursing Questionnaire) is a better predictor of job area preference than either personality or perception alone. It would seem that job area preference is a useful variable in investigating vocational decision making. Combining personality and percept1on enhances the strength of the relationship between independent and dependent variables. Implications for future research and vocational guidance were discussed, in terms of using this paradigm to study other occupational fields with functional subareas, and in helping counselors guide students to look at occupational careers in terms of need-satisfaction.
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