Mental Outlook Impacts Youth Employment

Psychological characteristics lead to business success

(RxWiki News) Can you think yourself into a job? For young adults the answer may be, more so than you think.

Certain psychological mindsets are tied to employment rates among people in the 18 to 30 year age range, and those who possess these traits weather difficult working climates better than their peers. Mental factors such as goals and aspirations, combined with striving toward those goals, appeared to influence long-term success.

"Positive mental attitudes could link to getting a job."

In St. Paul, Minnesota a group of 1,010 people were tracked and studied by University of Minnesota researchers for more than 20 years. Beginning in 1988, as ninth-graders in the public schools, researchers surveyed the teenagers and have continued to survey them annually ever since.

The study group is now 37-38 years old, and the 23 years of analysis has yielded some important results about mental motivation and employment.

Researchers, led by UM professor Jeylan Mortimer, looked at three psychological orientations as the youth transitioned into adulthood and careers: educational aspirations, career goal certainty, and job search activities. Those who maintained high career aspirations and had clear career goals from age 18 to 30 were more likely to be employed between 2007 and 2009.

These individuals also had higher wages than their peers who did not maintain aspirations and goals. Even with the same educational background, those who experienced greater indecision with their careers had been less successful in weathering the recent economic downturn.

As Mortimer remarked, the recession has had severe consequences for young workers in America, and high unemployment rates can have lasting negative consequences on their careers.

The findings were presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in August 2011, and a full list of articles from the ongoing Youth Development Study are available at the University of Minnesota website.

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Review Date: 
August 26, 2011