Being unemployed can change your personality, according to scientific research. Not having a job isn’t just stressful — it alters how you act, think, and behave.
Here’s the science behind why this event can be so damaging to many people’s personalities
Unemployment is one of the most stressful things people have to endure in their lifetime. Therefore, it should not come as a big surprise that being unemployed can drastically change your personality.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology asked 6,769 German adults to take the same personality test twice in a four-year period. Out of those participants, 251 were unemployed for under a year, and 210 were unemployed for one to four years.
The study looked at the big five personality traits: neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, and extraversion.
The results found that men became more agreeable during the first two years after becoming jobless, but that they became more disagreeable over the next two years. Women became more disagreeable with each passing year.
Similarly, men showed a healthy amount of openness during the first year, which declined the longer the men stayed unemployed. Women’s levels of openness declined sharply during the second and third year.
Men’s conscientiousness declined more rapidly the longer they spend unemployment. On the other hand, women became more conscientious during the early and late stages of unemployment but slumped during the middle.
Researchers concluded that the loss of a job is more than just a financial concern – there is also a social stigma that comes with being unemployed as well as a stigma that comes with negative personality traits. The stigma could create a downward spiral in the job market.
Study Shows How Unemployment Changes Personality