Personality across working life: the longitudinal and reciprocal influences of personality on work

Stephen A. Woods*, Filip Lievens, Filip De Fruyt, Bart Wille

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summary: This paper focuses on the role of personality at different stages of people's working lives. We begin by reviewing the research in industrial, work, and organizational (IWO) psychology regarding the longitudinal and dynamic influences of personality as an independent variable at different career stages, structuring our review around a framework of people's working lives and careers over time. Next, we review recent studies in the personality and developmental psychology domain regarding the influence of changing life roles on personality. In this domain, personality also serves as a dependent variable. By blending these two domains, it becomes clear that the study of reciprocal effects of work and personality might open a new angle in IWO psychology's long-standing tradition of personality research. To this end, we outline various implications for conceptual development (e.g., trait stability) and empirical research (e.g., personality and work incongruence). Finally, we discuss some methodological and statistical considerations for research in this new research domain. In the end, our review should enrich the way that IWO psychologists understand personality at work, focusing away from its unidirectional predictivist influence on job performance toward a more complex longitudinal reciprocal interplay of personality and working life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S7-S25
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue numberS1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2013


  • careers
  • five-factor model
  • personality
  • personality development
  • reciprocal influences


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