Stability and change in work values: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies

Jing Jin, James Rounds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies was conducted to investigate stability and change in work values across the life span. Both rank-order stability and mean-level change were investigated using an integrative classification for intrinsic, extrinsic, social and status work values (Ross, Schwartz, & Surkis, 1999). Results of rank-order stability indicated that work values were stable individual differences (ρ=62). The stability level was lowest during college years (18-22. years old) and highest after entering the workforce (22. years old and later). Work values were more stable than personality traits across all age categories, whereas not as stable as vocational interests during college years and adulthood. Baby Boomers were found to possess a higher level of rank-order stability as compared to Generation X. Mean-level results showed that during college years (18-22. years old), the population as a whole attached more importance to intrinsic values while deemphasizing all the remaining values; during the initial entry of the workforce (22-26. years old), only extrinsic values showed an increase in importance while all the other values decreased; later on after adulthood years (26. years and after), besides the continuous increase of extrinsic values, there was also a dramatic increase in status values. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-339
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Change
  • Longitudinal
  • Meta-analysis
  • Stability
  • Work values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Education


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