A ground-breaking study from researchers in the UK has found that an individual’s personality is adversely affected by unemployment longer than a year.

In a paper entitled Personality Change Following Unemployment Christopher J Boyce, PhD of Stirling University in the United Kingdom, and his team challenged the idea of ‘fixed’ personalities.

The researchers took as their study group 5,769 German adults (3,733 males, 3035 females). At the time of the trial 210 of the participants were unemployed. The survey focused on measuring the key personality traits conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion and openness.

Their survey showed that agreeableness declined with the length of time a person was unemployed; as did conscientiousness.

Perversely then, it seems the longer a person is unemployed the more embittered they become. And as they become more embittered they will find it harder to land a job.

Boyce urged governments to take his findings into account when formulating employment policies. “Public policy,” he said, “therefore has a key role to play in preventing adverse personality change in society through both lower unemployment rates and offering greater support for the unemployed.”

The findings will be of interest to the federal and state governments in Australia as domestic unemployment rates reach record levels.

The American Psychological Association have published the paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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