The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between career ambition – defined as high achievement motivation and strong career orientation – and both extrinsic (salary, position) and intrinsic success (job satisfaction, goal attainment) of psychologists. Over and above this, the authors explore whether extrinsic success predicts intrinsic success or vice versa.
In order to analyze the impact of career ambition on extrinsic and intrinsic success, the authors conducted two online studies with psychology graduates – a cross-sectional study (Study 1; n=119) and a longitudinal one (Study 2; n=63; two-three years interval between assessment points). The authors applied regression and cross-lagged analyses to investigate the interplay of career ambition and career success.
The results show that career ambition impacts on both extrinsic and intrinsic success. More specifically, extrinsic success was positively predicted by career orientation in Study 1. In contrast, achievement motivation was negatively related to intrinsic success (Study 1) and even diminished it over time (Study 2). Findings of the cross-lagged analysis further underlined that intrinsic success predicts extrinsic success.
The study contributes by separately investigating two aspects of career ambition and showing their different effects on career success in the specific profession of psychologists. As cross-lagged findings revealed that psychologists’ intrinsic success predicted their extrinsic success and not vice versa, the authors discuss whether psychologists might be worsening their career development in the long run by showing high achievement motivation.
The authors would like to thank Sandra Schladitz, Daniela Weseler and Gisela Mohr for valuable comments on previous versions of this manuscript. The study was supported by the Faculty of Biosciences, Pharmacy and Psychology at the University of Leipzig. Parts of this paper were presented at the 29th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Otto, K., Roe, R., Sobiraj, S., Baluku, M.M. and Garrido Vásquez, M.E. (2017), "The impact of career ambition on psychologists’ extrinsic and intrinsic career success: The less they want, the more they get", Career Development International, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 23-36. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-06-2016-0093
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