Monday, 29 November 2010

Careers & Men in Midlife

A new Australian study by Dr Rob Brandenburg and Associate Professor Kurt Lushington, Careers and Men in Midlife, explores the extent to which personality type may influence the career experience of midlife men has been released, and can now be viewed on line (address at the bottom of this article).

Based on Jungian (Myers-Briggs Type re Indicator®) personality preference, ten Intuitive-Feeling men were were compared with ten Sensing-Thinking males (40-55 years). As many of you will know, MBTI theory focuses on two processes, Perception and Judgement.

Perception is the process of gathering information, either by way of the senses or through intuition.
  • Sensing (S) refers to the perception of information that is observable by way of the five senses - those with an S preference tend to place an emphasis on concrete data, immediate experiences and practicality.
  • Intuition (N) refers to perception of information as ideas and concepts - those with an N preference tend to focus on connections, possibilities, patterns and meaning (McGuiness 2004; Myers et al 1998).
Judgement refers to how information is processed to come to conclusions and make decisions about what has been perceived.
  • Thinking (T) function uses logic and analysis and tends to be objective and impersonal in applying personal reason to a decision. Those with a T preference tend to base decisions on objectivity and laws/principles related to objects and processes
  • Feeling (F) function focuses on values and relationships and is a more subjective decision-making process (Myers, McCauley, Quenk and Hammer 1998). Those with a F preference tend to make decisions by considering what is the most important for people (McGuiness 2004, Myers et al 1998).
Intuitive-Feelers (NFs), when compared to Sensing-Thinkers (STs), were more likely to report fulfilling career dreams held as young men, aspire to work roles which had greater self-determination/autonomy and provided greater opportunities to coach/mentor others, were less likely to seek a change of occupation but reacted with greater disillusionment/cynicism to job loss.

However, despite differences, the majority in both groups were positive about work in midlife which was attributed to greater family/community engagement, career mastery and having achieved an alignment of personal and organisational values.

The findings support the hypothesis that personality type does influence the male experience of career in midlife. In regard to career dreams and aspirations, NFs were generally looking to remain in helping related work roles while STs were generally looking to shift from business related to helping occupations.

With the looming departure from the labour market of increasing numbers of ageing baby boomers, proactive career development strategies that encompass an awareness of compass personality type can assist in retaining and developing midlife employees.

The group conducting this study are considering completing a more comprehensive study, as they felt a limitation was that only two MBTI subtypes were compared. In future studies it may be useful to examine other MBTI pairings or whole preferences.

As an NT, I would find that very interesting!

For the full report, go to


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