June 12, 2009 / 4:28 AM / 10 years ago

Pushy boss? Slack staff? It comes with the job: study

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Boss too mean? Staff fond of slacking? It comes with the territory, says a new study that found personality traits have a big influence on your job.

The cast of NBC's "The Office" in a photo courtesy of the network. REUTERS/NBC/Handout

The study, by researchers at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, showed that in many cases, personality, rather than education or the occupation of a person’s parents, played a bigger role in determining what job people ended up with.

People in managerial roles tended to be more open to experience, more conscientious but less agreeable than others in different job roles.

Clerical workers were the most conscientious, but least open to change, while salespeople were the most extroverted and agreeable.

Office workers were among the least conscientious, but they had high levels of emotional stability.

“Personality traits are a combination of genes and upbringing, and they’re relatively formed by the age of 12,” said Robert Wells, one of the researchers who conducted the study as part of his PhD thesis.

“By the age of 30, the broad characteristics are stable. And the study indicates that personality traits generally seem to have some influence on occupational outcomes,” he told Reuters.

“Also, with regard to occupations, management tends to be more influenced by personality traits.”

The study was based on data from a wide ranging national survey, the Household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia, which involves almost 20,000 individuals.

The survey looked at the prevalence of five characteristics - openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and emotional stability - in different occupations.

“This study can help policymakers, employees and employers alike,” said Wells. “The broad personality traits of the five-factor model have a significant, relatively strong, persistent and expected effect over occupational outcomes.”

Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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