Subjective Well Being And Job Satisfaction Psychology Essay

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Job Satisfaction has been extensively researched through the years. To get a clear idea as to what Job Satisfaction is about we look at the various definitions of Job Satisfaction. The most important of them all was the definition given by Locke (1976) where he defined Job Satisfaction as ". . . a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or job experiences". Implicit in Locke's definition is the importance of both affect, or feeling, and cognition, or thinking. When we think, we have feelings about what we think. Conversely, when we have feelings, we think about what we feel. Cognition and affect are thus inextricably linked, in our psychology and even in our biology (Saari & Judge , 2004). Most authors state job satisfaction as resulting from the fulfilment of needs through the activities one performs at one's job and from the context in which the work is performed. It is very hard to fulfil one's need as it keeps changing quite often (Kumar, 2002). Building on these definitions, Drever (1964) described job satisfaction ''as an end state of feeling."

Thus we see from the above definitions that Job Satisfaction is more of an attitude of the individual towards his/her job. Job Satisfaction has a number of antecedents such as Environmental variables, Personal Variables and Person- Job Fit variables. Environmental variables include factors such as Pay (Huang, 1999) and Job characteristics (Baker, 2000). Personal Variables include Genetics (Ilies & Judge , 2003), Personality (Judge , Heller and Mount , 2002) , Gender (Javad & Premarajan , 2009 ) , Age (Huang , 1999) , Culture (Saari & Judge , 2004) and Life Satisfaction(Jain , Jabeen , Mishra and Gupta , 2007). It is also related to Organization structural characteristics such as hierarchy, size, and centralization (Huang, 1999).

The personological basis of job satisfaction was one of the earliest treatments of job satisfaction. Hoppock (1935), for example, noted a strong correlation between workers' emotional adjustment and their levels of job satisfaction. Similarly, Fisher and Hanna (1931) concluded that a large part of dissatisfaction was the result of emotional maladjustment. These were some of the early studies on the dispositional source of job satisfaction. This area remained largely untouched till the 1980's .There has been renewed interest in the role of personality in work and organisational behaviour over the years. This has mainly been due to the emergence of the 'Big Five 'classification of the personality structure. Personal variables such as agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience are the top five categories in the Personality Trait hierarchy. These 5 traits have been strongly linked to the area of Job Satisfaction (Judge , Heller and Mount , 2002).The potential linkages between these traits and Job Satisfaction is as explored below.


Emotional stability is often defined in terms of the low pole of the trait and referred to as neuroticism or negative affectivity (King , George and Hebl , 2005).Therefore individuals high in Neuroticism have low emotional stability and those low in Neuroticism have high emotional stability. Individuals who exhibit high emotional stability tend to remain calm, composed, stable and well adjusted in most situations. They do not have a tendency to feel anxious or get upset. However individuals high on Neuroticism are worrying in nature, anxious, hostile, self pitying and unstable. Since Neurotic individuals have an essentially negative nature they tend to mostly experience negative life events as compared to other individuals. This is in part due to the fact that they select themselves into situations that foster negative affect. To the extent that such situations occur on or with respect to the job, they would lead to diminished levels of job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002).


Individuals who are high on Extraversion exhibit characteristics such as being sociable, talkative, fun loving and people oriented. Furthermore, they have a higher desire for status, recognition, and material gain as well as a predisposition to positive affect. Extraverts have more friends and spend more time in social situations than do introverts and, because of their social facility, are likely to find interpersonal interactions (such as those that occur at work) more rewarding (Judge et al., 2002). Overall, studies suggest a high correlation with job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002).


Individuals high on Agreeableness are characterised as being cooperative, flexible, tolerant, helpful and good natured. Agreeableness has been found to have a high correlation to job performance especially in those jobs that necessitate social interactions (King et al., 2005). McCrae and Costa (1991) argued that Agreeableness should be related to happiness because agreeable individuals have greater motivation to achieve interpersonal intimacy, which should lead to greater levels of well-being..Assuming these same communal motivations exist on the job, then the same process should operate with respect to job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002).


It is associated with reliability, organization, efficiency, and thoroughness.Mc Crae and John (1992) said that it is a dimension of personality that may both organize and direct behaviour. They also said that individuals high in Conscientiousness are likely to have long term plans. Organ and Lingl (1995) argued that Conscientiousness should be related to job satisfaction because it represents a general work involvement tendency and thus leads to a greater likelihood of obtaining satisfying work rewards, both formal (e.g., pay, promotions) and informal (e.g., recognition, respect, feelings of personal accomplishment).

Openness to Experience

It is associated with an individual having a very divergent line of thought, high degree of creativity, imagination, political liberalism and low religiosity. This is useful if the work context of the individual demand high levels of creativity however studies have shown that its effect on Job satisfaction is unclear (Judge et al., 2002).

Additonal Personality traits

Locus of Control

Rotter (1966) defined Locus of Control as an individual's general belief that the outcomes and rewards in his or her life are controlled either by his/her own actions and behaviours, or by external forces. LOC is not represented in the Big Five as it reflects more cognitive beliefs about the world rather than behaviours, which are the major focus of the Big Five (Bruk-Lee , Khoury , Nixon , Goh and Spector , 2009). LOC is generally measured in five ways: (a) Work, (b) Internal, (c) Overall, (d) chance, and (e) powerful others. Overall LOC refers to the individual's perception about how much he/she is in control of the environment surrounding him/her i.e. life, surroundings, rewards and outcomes. Work LOC refers to the individual's perception of how much he/she is in control of his/her work environment. Internal LOC refers to the individual's perception of how much he/she believes that outcomes are influenced by one's own behaviour. Chance LOC is when the individual believes outcomes to be determined by fate , luck or chance. Powerful others is the belief that people in authority or power are always in control (Bruk-Lee et al., 2009).Work LOC and Internal - External LOC are the most commonly studied ones. People with a high internal LOC are more satisfied with their jobs as they as they perceive that they are in control of the situation.

Type A Personalities

Type A personalities are highly ambitious, aggressive, competitive and impatient. Type A behaviours are categorised under 4 domains: (1) A strong sense of time urgency in which the individual fails to keep track of time or manage time properly leading to delays and unproductive time.(2) The individual is easily prone to anger.(3) Polyphasic behaviour in which the individual takes on more tasks than he can handle at that particular time . (4) Lack of Goal directedness in which the individual takes on tasks but does not really know how to accomplish them in order to achieve the desired result. Type A personalities have two distinct dimensions. Personality characterised by impatience and irritability (II) and Achievement Striving (AS).Studies have shown that Type II is negatively related to job satisfaction and AS will be positively related to job satisfaction (Bruk-Lee et al., 2009).

Trait Anger

This refers to the tendency of the individual to experience anger across various situations. The construct is similar to a Type A II dimension but deals with it in a broader sense as here the individual experiences anger across situations rather than reacting to specific stressors such as having to wait. Although studies do not show any significant relation between trait anger and job satisfaction , it is possible that people high in Trait Anger create a stressful environment around them that is consequently less satisfying. Also these individuals are readily prone to anger thus being less satisfied (Bruk-Lee et al., 2009).

Subjective Well Being

Personality can be an important factor in determining happiness or unhappiness. Personality and Temperament are interrelated. Temperament is a predisposition to respond in a particular manner that occurs very early in life. Both Personality and Temperament are said to be related to subjective well being. Subjective well being is a psychological term that is popularly termed as 'Happiness'. Subjective well being is defined as having an affective and cognitive subcomponent (Schimmack , Radhakrishnan , Oishi , Dzokoto & Ahadi , 2002). The affective component relates to moods and emotions and cognitive component relates to life satisfaction. A person has high subjective well being frequently experience pleasant moods and infrequently experiences unpleasant moods. It is to be understood that people who experience a lot of pleasant moods are not the opposite of people who experience a lot of unpleasant moods. Rather people who are high on positive affect experience very little of unpleasant moods, but do experience them nevertheless and vice versa.

The link between Personality and Subjective well being

There is a strong link between one of the traits of the Big Five model i.e. Extraversion and Subjective well being. Extraverts are predisposed to experience positive emotions and like to spend more time in social situations. Bradburn (1969) said that social interactions were related to positive affect and not negative affect. Costa and McCrae (1980) in turn proved that positive affect was related to personality. Extraverts are generally people who work well in any environment, alone or in a social setting. They however experience greater positive affect in a social setting.

A related process that connects personality to Subjective well being is the Person - Environment Fit. Individuals with a certain kind of personality will be able to gain more out of a given environment than others. For example Extraverts would be happy as long as they live in an environment where sociability is rewarded. Similarly Introverts like to be alone more often and would be happier in such a situation than an Extravert.

H1: Extraverts experience high Subjective well being and consequently greater Job Satisfaction only if they are placed in an environment which rewards sociability.

Directions for Further Research

The link between the other 4 traits of the Big Five model on Subjective well being and job satisfaction can be further explored. Some appear to have more of an influence and some less. The reasons to this can be taken up for further study. Also the effect of culture on Subjective well being remains unexplored. The interactions of various situations with Personality variables to bring about Subjective well being and hence job satisfaction can also be studied.


This paper tries to form a linkage between personality, subjective well being and Job Satisfaction. Here we do presume that personality is more strongly related to the affective component of subjective well being than the cognitive component. Once the hypotheses is established is proved, this can perhaps be used to understand an individual's tendency to be satisfied or dissatisfied with his/her job.

Person - Job Fit

Find the right match

Organisation Structure






Job Characteristics

Skill Variety

Task Identity

Task Significance


Task Feedback




Negative Affectivity





Life Satisfaction

Job Turnover

Job Satisfaction

Job Productivity