CHAPTER 3 OCCUPATIONAL PASSION, PSYCHOLOGICAL CAREER RESOURCES AND PSYCHOSOCIAL CAREER PREOCCUPATIONS
Chapter 3 addresses the second literature research aim pertaining to the conceptualisation of the constructs occupational passion, psychological career resources and psychosocial career preoccupations, which serve as psychological resources and intrinsic motivators of career wellbeing. The variables that are associated with each of the constructs are discussed in this chapter.
More specifically, information regarding the conceptualisation, the relevant theoretical models and the person-centric factors for of the constructs of occupational passion, psychological career resources, psychosocial career preoccupations are provided in this chapter. This is congruent with step two of phase one of the research method, as identified in Chapter 1 of this study. This chapter evaluates the implications of the research hypothesis for career management, as well as the career wellbeing of working adults, and discusses career wellbeing possible interventions.
Finally, the review of the literature discussed in Chapters 1, 2 and 3 will enable the researcher to develop a conceptual framework for exploring the relationship between the variables of occupational passion, psychological career resources, psychosocial career preoccupations and career satisfaction from various theoretical perspectives. This framework will form the basis of the proposed integrated theoretical model of career wellbeing which is discussed in chapter 4.
The construct of passion toward work, that is, occupational passion, has received much research attention in recent years (Burke et al., 2014; Ho & Lee, 2011; Vallerand 2010; Vallerand, 2015; Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003; Vallerand et al., 2003; Zigarmi et al., 2009). In this section a critical evaluation on the definitions and conceptualisations, from various scholars, of the construct of occupational passion is provided. Theoretical frameworks that apply to the concept of occupational passion that are relevant to the study are discussed and the person-centric variables that influence occupational passion are described.
Many researchers and philosophers have attempted to conceptualise the concept of passion over the years. This section describes the different conceptualisations that are associated with the term ‘passion’ and passion toward work, that is, occupational passion.
As the word ‘passion’ is derived from the Greek word pathos and the Latin word patio, which both mean suffering, ancient Greek philosophers saw the concept of passion as synonymous with hardship (Konstan, 2006). Research by Duckworth, Peterson and Kelly (2007) found that passion allows individuals to persevere in difficult circumstances and anxiety, and that passion can thus be seen as the driving force behind overcoming hardship. Ancient religious scholars believed that passion was a negative uncontrollable state of mind or an unregulated form of energy imposed by the gods as a result of people’s sin which overruled all reason and rationality (Konstan, 2006; Vallerand, 2015). Aristotle (384–322 BC) stated that passion is a human trait that is developed on the basis of experiences and is not necessarily a negative concept (Konstan, 2006).
Saint Augustine (354–430) stated that passion is a natural human response to environmental stimuli, that the response can either be positive or negative and that individuals should control their passions at all times (Nye, 2015; Russell, 2015). Descartes (1961) built on St Augustine’s philosophies, stating that passion represents a strong emotional impulse which may result in individuals losing rationality. Descartes (1961) defined different types of passion, which he believed were experienced in the soul, but acted out by the body, namely, love, aspiration, hate, respect and unhappiness. Passion is thus seen as a state of intense emotion (Wolf, Lee, Sah, & Brooks, 2016). Mullen, Davis, and Polatajiko (2012) state that passion can be seen as a range of negative and positive emotions that individuals have towards an activity or object.
The British philosopher David Hume (1711–1776) and the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) both suggested that passion is a distinct construct from emotions, as the rational mind plays a role in the production of passion (Cohen, 2014). Kant stated that passion differs from emotions as emotions are often short-lived whilst passion is an enduring human characteristic (Cohen, 2014). Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) disagreed with the ancient Greek philosophers to the extent that he maintained that passion went above and beyond reason and that it is such a powerful force that it can only be controlled by other passions (Verburg, 2016). The existentialist philosopher, Kierkegaard (1844–1900), went as far to say that passion is essential to fulfil a meaningful existence (Russell, 2015).
Valerand (2015) states that individuals can only be passionate when their passion is directed at a specific entity, activity, or object and not to at all aspects of life. Vallerand (2015) continues, saying that passion can be towards an activity (e.g. work), toward an object (e.g. an individual’s car), another person (e.g. a sporting hero) or even an abstract concept (e.g. a dream, a goal, or a cause).
Frijda (2010) argues that passion is a motivational force that energises individuals to reach a desired outcome, as well as that passion is a tendency, desire, goal and determination toward an entity that provides pleasure. Similarly, Hall (2002) indicates that passion is a conceptualised as a desire to achieve a positive outcome. Some researchers have described passion as love directed at an activity, object or person, as both passion and love can be described as goal-directed motivation, reward, self-representation and appraisal (Baum & Locke, 2004; Cardon et al., 2009).
Other researchers have stated that passion can be defined as an important attitude that individuals have toward a philosophy or person (Krosnick, 1990). Passion can thus be seen as inclination to be drawn toward an outcome that individuals regard as meaningful (Krosnick, 1990). Individuals who are passionate about certain outcomes only believe that life is worth living and meaningful when they are able to engage in the activity or with the object or person that they are passionate about (Krosnick, 1990).
Persistent energetic behaviour towards an activity that individuals are passionate about is one of the key defining characteristics of passion (Amiot, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2006; Vallerand, 2015). A key element that defines someone’s passion towards something or an activity is their willingness to put time and effort into the pursuit of the object of their passion in an energetic, determined and sustainable manner (Carbonneau et al., 2008; Vallerand, 2015).
Vallerand et al. (2003) state that a key characteristic of passion is that it forms part of an individual’s identity. Vallerand et al. (2003) found evidence for passion in terms of individual– activity interaction where the activity that individuals are positive about became an important part of their identities. Joussain (1928) argues that individuals’ passions can have an influence on their lifestyle, as well as enduring characteristics such as personality and outlook on life. In many cases the object or activity that individuals are passionate about will become part of the individuals, their identities, and how they perceive life and others (Cardon, 2008). For example, when individuals are passionate about their work they perceive their work as forming a central part of their identity (Birkeland & Buch, 2015).
The internalisation of a passionate activity or object into the identities of individuals has an effect on how individuals engage with the activity or object as well as how persistently they engage with it (Vallerand et al., 2003). Many individuals who are passionate about their work could thus find it difficult to retire as work forms such an integral part of their identity (Houlfort et al., 2015).
In view of the fact that passion can refer to negative aspects such as hardship and uncontrollable behaviour and uncontrollable emotions and positive aspects such as motivation,love and goal orientation, the duality of passion needs to be considered (Vallerand, 2015). In other words, there is a positive and negative side to passion. Joussain (1928) argued that some passions could result in intrinsic conflict between those passions and other parts of individuals’ lives, whilst other passions may coexist in harmony with each other and with other aspects of individuals’ lives.
Vallerand et al. (2003) were the first contemporary researchers to conduct an empirical study on the concept of passion with regard to activities. Vallerand et al. (2003) propose a multidimensional definition of passion that is based on the previous conceptualisations of passion as described above. The definition by Vallerand et al. (2003) covers the following seven points. First, passion can only be present if it is directed at a specific object or activity and individuals are not regarded as passionate if they have passion for everything (Vallerand et al., 2003). There is thus a special connection between the individual and the focus of their passion (Vallerand et al., 2003). Second, passion can be conceptualised when individuals like or even love a specific activity or object for a continuing period of time (Vallerand et al., 2003). Third, passion for an object or activity can be conceptualised as being present when individuals value the object or activity greatly and it takes up a central role in their lives. Fourth, passion entails a motivational drive to gravitate towards the activity or object that individuals see as meaningful (Vallerand et al., 2003). Fifth, when an individual has passion for an activity it may become part of their identity and may be symbolic of their key features (Vallerand et al., 2003). Sixth, individuals take part in the activities that they are passionate about with drive and energy and will take part in these activities on a frequent basis (Vallerand et al., 2003). Seventh, passion may be experienced in both a positive and negative way and may have a positive and negative impact on the different life spheres of individuals, which indicates the duality of passion.
Vallerand and Houlfourt (2003) built on Vallerand et al.’s (2003) definition to define occupational passion, that is, passion toward work. Vallerand and Houlfort (2003) conceptualise the construct of occupational passion as the work-related activities that energise individuals, that are worth spending time on, that engage individuals, that individuals perceive as important and that provide satisfaction. Vallerand and Houltfort (2003) state that passion is the preference for certain work-related activities that are internalised in such a way that they form part of a person’s identity and will have an effect on the level of harmony that they have with their work environment.
Vallerand and Houltfort’s (2003) definition of occupational passion is used in this study as a result of its close relationship with the construct of career wellbeing. As career wellbeing is seen as individuals’ satisfaction with their careers over time, and Vallerand and Houltfort (2003) state that occupational passion is the work-related activities that engage, satisfy and provide energy to individuals over time, the two constructs are closely aligned.
Next, passion prevalence, harmonious passion and obsessive passion are discussed.
Zigarmi et al. (2009) state that occupational passion is a constructive, personally adopted, permanent state resulting from a degree of satisfaction in terms of perceived personal work benefits. A person is passionate when they have a strong inclination toward a self-defining activity that they enjoy, find significant and invest energy in on a frequent basis (Vallerand, 2010). Vallerand (2015) states that when individuals frequently take part in certain enjoyable work-related activities these may be incorporated into the individual’s identity, become highly valued by the individual and thus encourage the development of passion towards these activities. A person is thus perceived as passionate when there is an enjoyment of job-related activities, when these activities are deemed to be important and when the individual engages in purposeful behaviour to take part in the activity (Vallerand, 2015). However, the mere enjoyment of an activity does not mean that an individual is passionate about that activity (Vallerand, 2015). It is only when an individual spends time and energy on a regular basis on an enjoyable activity that we can say that the individual is passionate about that activity (Vallerand, 2015).
The difference between a passion and an interest is the fact that individuals will go out of their way to engage in a passion, while an interest will merely remain an activity that individuals enjoy (Vallerand, 2015). When individuals are passionate about certain career-related activities they will consume a large part of their thought patterns, their career outlook, their relationships with others, what they talk about and how they spend their time (Vallerand, 2015).
Vallerand et al. (2003) state that individuals can be passionate about a number of activities and that most individuals experience passion for certain activities. However, individuals can only be seen as passionate when they engage in the activities that they are passionate about on a purposeful and frequent basis (Vallerand et al., 2003). The more passionate individuals are toward certain activities the more time and energy they will invest in them (Vallerand, 2015).
The degree to which a certain activity forms part of an individual’s identity can also describe both the prevalence and the level of passion that an individual has towards an activity (Vallerand et al., 2003). The activities that individuals are passionate about can modify their behaviour, be a motivational force to persevere and consume thought patterns (Vallerand et al., 2003). Individuals are more passionate about certain activities than others (Vallerand, 2015).
Mageau et al. (2009) found that supportive relationships are important for the development of passion and that autonomy support (or its opposite controlling behaviour) is strongly related to the development of passion for an activity. The way in which the social environment (e.g. co-workers, managers and clients) behaves toward the individual will influence their propensity to invest in the activity (Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003). Liu, Chen, and Yao (2011) found that the level of perceived support that individuals receive from their immediate work teams greatly influences the level of passion that individuals have toward their work. Houlfort et al. (2013) indicate that organisational culture has an impact on whether an individual develops passion toward their work or not.
Fernet, Lavigne, Vallerand, and Austin (2014) found that the type of work-related task could be a factor in whether an individual develops a passion toward it or not. According to Fernet et al. (2014), the level of autonomy that individuals have when engaging with the task would have an impact on whether individuals would develop a passion for the task. In alignment with the work of Bakker and Demerouti (2008), Fernet et al. (2014) found that the task demands (pressures related to the activity that are controlling in nature) and task resources (affordances provided to the individual to complete the task) would greatly influence the level and type of passion that is developed toward the activity/task.
Individuals who are passionate about a certain activity care greatly about the activity and also want to master the activity well (Vallerand, 2015). Thus, a relevant construct that could determine whether passion is developed is the concept of perfectionism. Flett and Hewitt (2005) describe perfectionism as holding exceptionally high standards of achievement for certain activities. Verner-Fillion and Vallerand (2016) found that self-orientated perfectionism and socially prescribed perfectionism are positively orientated to the development of passion.
The use of signature strengths has an impact on the prevalence of passion (Forest et al., 2012). Signature strengths are seen those things that individuals do best and have a positive effect on a number of outcomes such as subjective wellbeing (Govindji & Linley, 2007). Forest et al. (2012) found that individuals tend to develop passion for activities that align to their signature strengths.
Vallerand and Houlfort (2003) indicate that psychological need satisfaction is implicated in the development of passion toward an activity. Further, Vallerand (2010) states that activities which makes an individual feel passionate are not only enjoyable but also satisfy their psychological needs. Examples of psychological needs that individuals may want to satisfy in this way include the development of a positive self-esteem, relatedness and career satisfaction (Vallerand, 2010). The type and level of need satisfaction that is experienced when engaged in the activity about which one is passionate have an impact on the development of passion (Vallerand, 2015). Recurrent need deprivation in certain areas may result in the development of passion in other life domains (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Fuster, Chamarro, Carbonell, & Vallerand, 2014). Passion is thus seen as a psychological resource that is valued as an outcome, but may also contribute to the achievement of certain goals (Hobfoll et al., 2015; Vallerand, 2015).
According to Vallerand (2015), passion can also transform over time. Passion can diminish in intensity, be transferred to another activity or object, remain dormant for some time or even eventually disappear (Vallerand, 2015). Possible reasons for this transformation include changes in the motivation for the activity, changes in the love and energy that was invested in the activity, the activity no longer satisfies certain psychological needs, its value has changed or it no longer stimulates the individual (Vallerand, 2015).
Vallerand and Houlfort (2003) indicate that occupational passion can be internalised in an individual’s identity in either a positive or a negative way. Positive internalisation of the activity is called harmonious passion whilst the negative internalisation is referred to as obsessive passion. Harmonious passion is discussed next.
Vallerand and Houlfort (2003) describe harmonious passion as the autonomous or unforced internalisation of a work-related activity that an individual chooses to participate in. Hodgins and Knee (2002) state that the process of autonomous internalisation will take place when the individual experiences the activity as important, enjoyable, meaningful and with no perception of ulterior objectives from external drivers. Harmonious passion will encourage individuals to perform their work with a sense of personal control and self-ratification (Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003).
Following self-determination theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan, 2000), which stipulates that individuals incorporate aspects of their environment to define their identity through an activity, Vallerand (2015) states that being harmoniously passionate about an activity means that it plays an important but not overwhelming part in one’s identity. When applying this to the work context, it means that harmoniously passionate individuals enjoy their work-related activities, they can freely dedicate themselves to their work and do not have a sense of constant obligation towards their work (Ryan & Deci, 2003; Vallerand, 2015). This lack of feelings of constant obligation gives individuals the ability to disengage themselves from their work when necessary and the independence to participate in other enjoyable activities (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Vallerand, 2015).
Adding to this, Vallerand and Houlfort’s (2003) research found that harmoniously passionate individuals are not constrained by obligatory work-related activities but rather freely decide to take part in these activities as they give them a sense of success, satisfaction and pleasure. Deci and Ryan (2000) point out that individuals will take part in a task when they can see the intrinsic value that performing the task has for them even if the task is not always enjoyable. When individuals have harmonious passion, they will feel comfortable to allow certain work activities to form an important part of their identity, but these activities will remain in harmony with other aspects of the individual’s identity and environment (Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003).
In addition, harmoniously passionate individuals have the self-control to manage the extent to which they engage in work-related activities (Vallerand & Houlfort, 2015). When harmoniously passionate individuals are prevented from taking part in activities that provide them enjoyment, they should be able to function optimally and concentrate on the current activity without constantly fixating on the activities they are passionate about (Ryan, Huta, & Deci 2008; Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003). Research shows that one of the characteristics of harmoniously passionate individuals is that they can engage with other individuals regarding non-work activities without feeling insecure about their identities (Zigarmi et al., 2009). At work these individuals have the ability to fully immerse themselves in their work activities whilst also being able to concentrate on the task at hand and experience positive emotions towards their work engagement (Zigarmi et al., 2009).
Studies show that when individuals are given the opportunity to apply their perceived strengths in the generation of activity or have enough freedom to structure the tasks in their own job they are more likely to experience harmonious passion (Forest et al., 2011). Research that was based on highly harmoniously passionate individuals suggests that these individuals display highly functional work behaviours as they associate positively with certain work activities (Vallerand et al., 2008). Additional positive effects of harmonious passion include the autonomous realisation of and spontaneous engagement in enjoyable work-related activities, which leads to satisfactory experiences such as positive affect and avoiding conflict with substitute identities (Mageau et al., 2011). The general agreement in research is that harmonious passion leads to a more balanced approach to work engagement and that those individuals who are harmoniously passionate do not allow the activities they are passionate about to occupy an unhealthy space in their identities (Vallerand et al., 2008).
Harmonious passion is negatively correlated to experiences of conflict between individuals’ passions and their other life domains. This lack of conflict allows individuals to experience a number of subjective wellbeing-related outcomes both during and after task engagement. Research shows that harmoniously passionate individuals experience high levels of quality relationships (Lafrenière, Jowett, Vallerand, & Carbonneau, 2011; Philippe, Vallerand, Houlfort, Lavigne, & Donahue, 2010); high levels of concertation at work (Mageau et al., 2005); positive flow (Philippe, Vallerand, Richer, Valliéres, & Bergeron, 2009; Wang, Khoo, Liu, & Divaharan, 2008), positive emotions (Mageau & Vallerand, 2007; Vallerand et al., 2008; Vallerand et al., 2006) and psychological wellbeing (Rousseau & Vallerand, 2008). Next, the controlled internalisation of an activity into an individual’s self-concept namely obsessive passion is discussed.
There is, however, a negative side to occupational passion where the activities that an individual is passionate about can lead to outcomes such as low levels of career wellbeing (Vallerand et al., 2010). When an individual internalises an activity in a controlled manner, but the activity causes the individual to feel pressure to engage in that activity, it is called obsessive passion (Ho et al., 2011; Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003; Vallerand, 2015). This controlled internalisation process results from internal or external pressures and is associated with rigid persistence (Ratelle et al., 2004). Although obsessive passion is a motivational power that drives an individual to achieve satisfactory work engagement, the engagement gets out of control (Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003).
Certain intrapersonal and/or interpersonal contingencies such as a dependable self-image, interpersonal recognition and job performance expectations lead to the creation of obsessive passion for a certain activity (Séguin-Lévesque, Laliberté, Pelletier, Blanchard, & Vallerand, 2003). Research indicates that this kind of passion is underpinned by a strong inclination towards a certain job-related activity and a strong engagement in that activity, but the engagement becomes uncontrollable for the individual (Ratelle et al., 2004). At first the activity seems to be highly enjoyable for the individual; however, when the individual becomes obsessively passionate about the activity they cannot disengage from it because of all the contingencies related to the activity (Rip, Vallerand, & Lafrenière, 2012). These work-related activities become part of an individual’s identity in such a way that they cannot make room for other life or work-related activities and a conflict arises between them and their work environment (Vallerand, 2015).
Activities that an individual is obsessively passionate about cause the individual to experience conflict with other areas of life (Cardon, 2008). These activities are pursued with such inflexible determination that there remains little room for other activities in the individual’s life to the point where interpersonal relationships and other life activities might suffer (Séguin-Lévesque et al., 2003). Even if an individual realises the negative impact that their obsessive passion may have on other spheres of their life, it will be difficult to disengage from these activities due to the influence of certain internal and external contingencies and the love for these activities (Preckel, Von Känel, Kudielka, & Fischer, 2005).
Individuals who are obsessively passionate about certain work-related activities will lose control over the role that the activity plays in their lives (Vallerand, 2008, 2010). Obsessively passionate individuals will position their lives around these activities and engage in them even if it is having a negative impact on other areas of their lives (Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003). Activities or forces that hinder obsessively passionate individuals from taking part in these activities are perceived as threats and will lead to extreme behaviours (Rip et al., 2012).
Extreme behaviours that are caused by obsessive passion include aggressive behaviour, defensive behaviour, and the obsessive pursuit of career goals (Cardon et al., 2009). The obsessive levels of passion can lead to the inflexible persistence to participate in certain work-related activities and a pathological addiction to these activities (Vallerand, 2008, 2010; Vallerand & Houlfort, 2003).
Except for short-term job engagement no clear relationship between obsessive passion and positive work outcomes has been found (Philippe et al., 2010; Vallerand et al., 2007). Research that has studied the correlation between obsessive passion and positive indicators of psychological health has indicated a negative relationship (Forest et al., 2011; Rousseau & Vallerand, 2008). In fact, Forest et al. (2011) found that obsessive passion negatively predicted an individual’s subjective wellbeing and subjective vitality.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of figures
List of tables
CHAPTER 1 SCIENTIFIC OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH
1.1 BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION FOR THE RESEARCH
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.3 AIMS OF THE RESEARCH
1.4 STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
1.5 THE RESEARCH MODEL
1.6 THE PARADIGM PERSPECTIVE OF THE RESEARCH
1.7 RESEARCH DESIGN
1.8 THE RESEARCH METHOD
1.9 CHAPTER DIVISION
1.10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2 META-THEORETICAL CONTEXT OF THE STUDY: CAREER WELLBEING AND CAREER SATISFACTION WITHIN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD OF WORK
2.1 CAREERS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD OF WORK
2.2 CAREERS OF WORKING ADULTS
2.3 CAREER WELLBEING
2.4 CAREER SATISFACTION
2.5 CHAPTER EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS
2.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3 OCCUPATIONAL PASSION, PSYCHOLOGICAL CAREER RESOURCES AND PSYCHOSOCIAL CAREER PREOCCUPATIONS
3.1 OCCUPATIONAL PASSION
3.2 PSYCHOLOGICAL CAREER RESOURCES
3.3 PSYCHOSOCIAL CAREER PREOCCUPATIONS
3.4 CHAPTER EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS
3.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4 INTEGRATION – TOWARD CONSTRUCTING A PSYCHOSOCIAL MODEL OF CAREER WELLBEING FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN WORKING ADULT
4.1 THE PSYCHOSOCIAL MODEL OF CAREER WELLBEING: THEORETICAL LENS
4.2 THE PSYCHOSOCIAL MODEL OF CAREER WELLBEING: AN OVERVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
4.3 THE PSYCHOSOCIAL MODEL OF CAREER WELLBEING: INTEGRATION
4.4 IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
4.5 CHAPTER EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS
4.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 RESEARCH METHOD
5.1 DETERMINATION AND DESCRIPTION OF THE SAMPLE
5.2 SELECTING AND JUSTIFYING THE PSYCHOMETRIC BATTERY
5.3 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN ADMINISTRATION OF THE PSYCHOMETRIC BATTERY
5.4 CAPTURING OF CRITERION DATA
5.5 FORMULATION OF THE RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
5.6 STATISTICAL PROCESSING OF THE DATA
5.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH
5.8 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
6.1 PRELIMINARY STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
6.2 DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS
6.3 CORRELATIONAL STATISTICS
6.4 INFERENTIAL (MULTIVARIATE) STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
6.5 INTEGRATION AND DISCUSSION
6.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSIONS, LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
7.4 EVALUATION OF THE STUDY
7.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT