Are Genetic and Environmental Influences on Job Satisfaction Stable Over Time? A Three-Wave Longitudinal Twin Study

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Job satisfaction research has unfolded as an exemplary manifestation of the “person versus environment” debate in applied psychology. With the increasing recognition of the importance of time, it is informative to examine a question critical to the dispositional view of job satisfaction: Are genetic influences on job satisfaction stable across different time points? Drawing upon dispositional and situational perspectives on job satisfaction and recent research in developmental behavioral genetics, we examined whether the relative potency of genetic (i.e., the person) and environmental influences on job satisfaction changed over time in a 3-wave longitudinal twin study. Biometric behavioral genetics analyses showed that genetic influences accounted for 31.2% of the variance in job satisfaction measured at approximately Age 21, which was markedly greater than the 18.7% and 19.8% of variance explained by genetic factors at Age 25 and Age 30. Such genetic influences were mediated via positive affectivity and negative affectivity, but not via general mental ability. After partialing out genetic influences, environmental influences on job satisfaction were related to interpersonal conflict at work and occupational status, and these influences were relatively stable across the 3 time points. These results offer important implications for organizations and employees to better understand and implement practices to enhance job satisfaction.

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