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Job satisfaction, working conditions and aspirations


  • Poggi, Ambra


People's evaluation of objective working conditions (job satisfaction) may be only partially explained by the objective working conditions faced by workers. Individuals are constantly drawing comparisons from their environment, from the past or from their expectations of the future. Workers look both upward and downward when making comparisons and aspirations about working conditions. They fix both lower aspiration bounds (that are, minimum acceptable working conditions) and upper aspiration bounds (representing the best working conditions they can obtain on the labour market). Reality lies between the upper and the lower bounds. Distance between aspiration bounds and reality might create biases in the evaluations of job satisfaction. In this paper, we propose a new approach towards studying the following issues: (i) we analyse the existence and the impact of aspiration biases on workers levels of job satisfaction; and, (i) we analyse whether workers adapt to conditions shedding light on the relationship existing between aspiration biases and working conditions actually experienced in the job place. These issues are empirically studied using the 2005 European Working Condition Survey (EWCS). We find that aspiration biases exist. On average, divergence between individual working conditions and the upper aspiration bounds has stronger effect in reducing job satisfaction than the distance between the lower aspiration bounds and reality in increasing job satisfaction. Finally, aspiration biases seem to be positively affected by good working conditions and negatively affected by bad working conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Poggi, Ambra, 2010. "Job satisfaction, working conditions and aspirations," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 936-949, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:6:p:936-949

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher F. Parmeter, 2018. "Estimation of the two-tiered stochastic frontier model with the scaling property," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 37-47, February.
    2. Ambra Poggi, 2012. "Public jobs and capabilities: the case of the Italian waste sector," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 127, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
    3. Eduardo Lora, 2013. "The Distance between Perception and Reality in the Social Domains of Life," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4608, Inter-American Development Bank.
    4. S. Cicognani & M. Cioni & M. Savioli, 2016. "The secret to job satisfaction is low expectations: How perceived working conditions differ from actual ones," Working Papers wp1083, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    5. Alecos Papadopoulos, 2015. "The half-normal specification for the two-tier stochastic frontier model," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 225-230, April.
    6. Osea Giuntella, 2012. "Do immigrants squeeze natives out of bad schedules? Evidence from Italy," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, December.
    7. Simona Cicognani & Martina Cioni & Marco Savioli, 2017. "Conditions at work: how actual and expected working conditions drive perception," Working Paper series 17-17, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    8. Martin Binder, 2015. "Do it with joy: Subjective well-being outcomes of working in non-profit organizations," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2015-03, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    9. da Borralha, Sérgio & Neves de Jesus, Saul & Pinto, Patrícia & Viseu, João, 2016. "Job Satisfaction In Hotel Employees: A Systematic Review Of The Literature," Journal of Spatial and Organizational Dynamics, CIEO-Research Centre for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics, University of Algarve, vol. 4(1), pages 4-20.
    10. Werner Bönte & Stefan Krabel, 2014. "You can't always get what you want: gender differences in job satisfaction of university graduates," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(21), pages 2477-2487, July.
    11. Rahma Daly & Marc-Arthur Diaye, 2017. "Do Performance Appraisals Decrease Employees’ Perception of Their Psychosocial Risks?," Documents de recherche 17-04, Centre d'Études des Politiques Économiques (EPEE), Université d'Evry Val d'Essonne.
    12. Anastasia Semykina & Susan J. Linz, 2013. "Job Satisfaction and Perceived Gender Equality in Advanced Promotion Opportunities: An Empirical Investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 591-619, November.


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