A recent study conducted in Germany has revealed that those who are unemployed for more than a year might suffer an irreversible personality change. According to the UK based study, long term unemployment makes job seekers less appealing and less employable.

The study, conducted the University of Stirling, found that the long term unemployed suffered a down-turn in their mood. The increasingly dour feeling was attributed to lower self-esteem and anger at a system which has proved unworkable. The paper, ‘Personality Change Following Unemployment’, also proved that our personalities are not as fixed as we once thought they were.

Using a German sample base, the researchers probed 6,769 German adults (3,733 men and 3,036 women) in order to gauge their feelings about employment. In the end, the data suggested that men who were unemployed for more than two years were ‘less agreeable’ than those who had not been unemployed. Similarly, women who were unemployed for one year were ‘less agreeable’ than their employed counterparts.

Other metrics (such as conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion and openness) were also gauged, with the study also indicating that unemployed men became less conscientious over time.

The researchers responsible for the report have also suggested that unemployment is an incrementally dire situation, with the long-term unemployed often spiralling into dangerous psychological territory. Christopher J Boyce, PhD, from the University of Stirling, has said that the answer lies in a more sensitive approach to the psychological factors which aid in determining our long term economic outlooks.

“Public policy therefore has a key role to play in preventing adverse personality change in society through both lower unemployment rates and offering greater support for the unemployed,” Mr. Boyce said.

With an explosion in Australia’s own unemployment rate, the study offers us plenty of food for thought. Without proper consideration of these findings, it’s likely that many Australians will simply fall through the social cracks. And that’s simply an unacceptable development…


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