Agentic pathways toward fulfillment in work

Jeylan T. Mortimer, Mike Vuolo, Jeremy Staff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Social scientists have focused their attention on the period of adolescence as critical for socioeconomic attainment and vocational development. While much is known about how youth develop orientations toward future work during adolescence, there has been little systematic study of the psychological orientations and behaviors during the post-adolescent period that foster long-term success and fulfillment in the world of work. Using data from the Youth Development Study, we found that those who exhibited psychological orientations and behaviors indicative of agentic striving from age 18 to 31-maintaining high aspirations and certainty over career goals, and engaging in multiple job search activities-had jobs in early adulthood that offered higher socioeconomic status and more intrinsic rewards. The advantage of the most agentic, in comparison to the least agentic youth, with respect to intrinsic rewards and self-direction, are attributed to their higher levels of education, but the most agentic youth had higher levels of occupational attainment, even when their educational attainments were controlled. The flexibly agentic were quite similar to the most agentic in their ability to attain jobs characterized by high levels of self-direction. We thus find that agentic striving in the post-high school period matters both for long-term occupational attainment and for contemporary youth's capacity to obtain high quality adult work experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPsychological, Educational, and Sociological Perspectives on Success and Well-Being in Career Development
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9789401789110
ISBN (Print)940178910X, 9789401789103
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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