People tend to have one of three beliefs about the meaning of work and which category you fall into largely depends on your parents, according to new research from the University of Michigan.
Workers who are job-oriented are those just trying to make a living who much prefer the activities they pursue outside of the office. Career-oriented adults—your typical “workaholic”—value the social status and prestige that comes with professional achievement, and derive much of their identity from their jobs. Calling-oriented people do work that they are passionate about because they want to have a positive impact on the world.
In the first empirical study into how these orientations originate, researchers found that how adolescents perceive their parents’ work ethic is central to the development of their own work attitudes.
It’s not a straightforward transfer of values. People who perceive their father to have a strong career-orientation are more likely to be career-oriented themselves—but career-determined mothers have no effect on their kids’ work orientation. The researchers attributed this to generational gender norms. When the study’s participants were teenagers, mostly in the 1980s, men were more commonly employed outside of the home and were more likely than women to hold “career” jobs with opportunity for advancement.