Men prefer economic-based goals; women, socially satisfying pursuits

November 02, 2000

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - They are age-old questions: Who am I? Who do I want to be? A new study suggests that both questions - one involving a person's disposition and the other encompassing a person's goals - should be considered when counseling young people on career choices.

The study, published in the October issue of the Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, found that college-aged men and women in general want good relationships and an exciting life, but men prefer economic-based goals and women want socially satisfying pursuits. A review of the responses, however, led to some brick laying for a new classification system for understanding people's motivations.

"One of the most notable accomplishments in personality psychology is the Big Five [a widely accepted taxonomy for personality traits]," said Brent W. Roberts, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois. "It is comprehensive, allowing us to describe people and personalities. A big question, however, is to what extent do dispositions - the way people behave - differ or follow the same paths as the motives of people?"

The Big Five integrates five personality dimensions: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience. "No one has looked at the Big Five in relationship to motives, and there hasn't been enough good research to disentangle or at least test to see if there is overlap between disposition and motives," Roberts said.

Researchers had 672 freshmen and sophomores (median age 19; 59 percent women) at a West Coast university rank 38 life goals. Responses were examined using the framework of the Big Five taxonomy and a standard assessment of narcissism - the level of interest one has in his or her own appearance, comfort and importance.

Roberts and co-author Richard W. Robins of the University of California at Davis, then identified 10 value domains for the life goals. Seven of them - economic, aesthetic, social, relationship, political, hedonistic and religious - were then examined more closely. The good relationships and exciting lives most desired by the students fell under the relationship and hedonistic values. Political goals were the least desired of the participants.

"What we found in this study is that people will pursue goals that show a strong relationship to their personalities," Roberts said. "These goals have to do with structuring one's life. We are finding a pattern in which we build life structures that in essence validate who we are. Personality traits are related to motives, but they are not the same things. If you see yourself as an intellectual, you'll pursue goals that include aesthetic intellectual activities such as reading or playing a musical instrument."

Counselors often look at a person's goals but not a person's personality, he said. "It might work better to get a good picture of both, because of the relationship we are finding between the two."
-end-


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Personality Articles from Brightsurf:

Infant temperament predicts personality more than 20 years later
Researchers investigating how temperament shapes adult life-course outcomes have found that behavioral inhibition in infancy predicts a reserved, introverted personality at age 26.

State of mind: The end of personality as we know it
In a study published today researchers propose that changing states of mind are holistic in that they exert all-encompassing and coordinated effects simultaneously on our perception, attention, thought, affect, and behavior.

Want to change your personality? It may not be easy to do alone
Most people want to change an aspect of their personality, but left to their own devices, they may not be successful in changing, research shows.

How personality predicts seeing others as sex objects
Several personality traits related to psychopathy -- especially being openly antagonistic -- predict a tendency to view others as merely sex objects, finds a study by psychologists at Emory University.

Scientists say you can change your personality
A review of recent research in personality science points to the possibility that personality traits can change through persistent intervention and major life events.

Personality traits affect retirement spending
How quickly you spend your savings in retirement may have as much or more to do with your personality than whether you have a lot of debt or want to leave an inheritance.

For the first time: A method for measuring animal personality
A study on mice shows animal research may need to take into account the connection between genes, behavior and personality.

Your spending data may reveal aspects of your personality
How you spend your money can signal aspects of your personality, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The sun may have a dual personality, simulations suggest
A deep dive into the sun's interior provides new clues to the forces that govern that star's internal clock.

A personality test for ads
People leave digital footprints online, and this information could helps marketers personalize ads based on individual personality types.

Read More: Personality News and Personality Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.