We know that people who are unemployed are more likely to feel depressed, over-drink, binge eat, or even think about suicide. Your unemployment can affect your marriage, make it difficult to handle financial pressures, and make you feel hopeless and ashamed.
New research from the UK, published in The Journal of Applied Psychology, shows becoming unemployed can change everything – including who you thought you were.
Does unemployment change our personality – isn’t personality something we’re born with?
- Environment plays a big role in our personality type, as does genetics.
- There are 5 personality traits consisting of openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion and emotional stability.
- Becoming unemployed affect ALL of these traits.
How are these traits affected by unemployment?
- The first year of unemployment seems to affect us all the most.
- Traits emerge showing us becoming less agreeable, our tempers become shorter and we have a harder time forgiving.
- Research finds men becoming less thorough, less effective and less efficient.
- Both men and women become less open, and they lose their sense of originality and imagination.
How does this impact an unemployed person’s family?
- Families suffer from the lack of efficiency and conscientiousness seen by the unemployed in their homes and their daily lives.
- As the unemployed family member becomes less forgiving and more abrupt, the other family members may feel like they are walking on eggshells.
- Spouses may find that their marriages are beginning to suffer from the personality changes in their significant other who is now unemployed.
- Strangely enough, women tend to become more thorough and efficient in the first year of unemployment and this may translate into more at-home projects being completed.
- The flip side of this is that the rest of the family members may start feeling like they are being micro-managed.
Can these personality changes affect your ability to get another job?
- Research has found that men can have a harder time finding another job due to lower efficiency in the first year. This leads to a drop in the ability to be conscientious and thus affects searching for another job.
- Women become less agreeable and a bit edgy after a job loss, which can have an affect on them during job interviews.
- Both men and women become less open after a job loss, which can impede their ability to look for and land their next job.
What can be done to offset this, or is it inevitable?
- Research has found that these effects didn’t last long and as soon as new employment was found by both men and women, their old personalities returned and their lives went back to business as usual.
- It is important to remember that feeling inefficient is normal and knowing this can help people overcome it.
- Try hard to not be short and crabby and watch out for being rigid and risk-adverse.
- Work hard on being considerate and take some time to try out new things.
- Focus on being thorough in your new job search and even consider some re-training which might help you land that better job than the one you left.
Dr. Jennifer Newman is a registered psychologist and director of Newman Psychological and Consulting Services Ltd., a Vancouver-based corporate training and development company. Identifying information in cases cited has been changed to protect confidentiality. Dr. Newman can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org