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Are work activities related to interest change over time? A 22-year longitudinal study
Abstract and Figures
Research has shown that vocational interests are important predictors of a number of life outcomes. Therefore, understanding individuals' vocational interests can also help to explain and predict their attitudes, behavior, and motives. The goal of the present study was to examine changes in vocational interests over time and explore whether these changes could be partially explained by employees' interactions with their work environments. We started by developing a theoretical framework that links interest development to the broader notion of person-environment (P-E) fit. Using a sample of 933 individuals entering the workforce, vocational interests, ratings of the work environment, and job satisfaction were assessed at 3 time points over the course of a 22-year longitudinal study. Results showed both stability (correlations ranging from .26 to .80) and change (d's ranging from .03 to .34 in absolute value) in vocational interests over time. In addition, individual differences in vocational interest change were also associated with corresponding changes in the work environment, suggesting that employees gravitate toward work environments that fit with their interests and their vocational interests are then predicted by their experiences in these environments. Similarly, we found that job satisfaction was positively associated with changes in interest fit such that individuals who were more satisfied with their jobs also experienced greater changes in interest fit. These results suggest that interactions between individuals and their work environments can play an important role in shaping vocational interests and understanding employee behavior over time. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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