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New paper in press at the Journal of Vocational Behavior

Tough Times at the Top: Occupational Status Predicts Changes in Job Satisfaction in Times of Crisis

News vom 19.10.2022

How do individuals with a higher versus lower occupational status experience major, unexpected changes to their work life? The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted most areas of work life and, thus, provides a unique opportunity to examine changes in work attitudes in response to a worldwide crisis. We predict that individuals with higher, but not with lower occupational status showed a decline in job satisfaction during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany (1st lockdown; March to May 2020), with subsequent recovery to initial job satisfaction levels. Based on role theory and social-psychological theories of hierarchical differentiation, we argue that, due to the profound work-related changes, individuals with higher (vs. lower) occupational status are more negatively affected in realizing their work goals and, thus, experience decreasing levels of job satisfaction. To test these predictions, we investigated trajectories of job satisfaction between December 2019 and July August 2020 (7 measurement waves; N = 1,583). Results showed that individuals with higher occupational status showed a pronounced U-shaped change in job satisfaction over time, whereas individuals with medium and lower occupational status did not experience a significant change in job satisfaction. In addition, we show that the U-shaped pattern is moderated by perceived constraints at work associated with the pandemic among individuals with higher occupational status. Overall, these findings contribute to our understanding of the link between occupational status and job satisfaction in times of crisis.

This paper has been accepted for publication at the Journal of Vocational Behavior (AJG Rank 4). For the final, proof-read version, please refer to the journal: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-vocational-behavior

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