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Some personality types thrive in the freelance economy

10 January 2019

People who like the big picture and prefer to live their lives in a spontaneous way are more likely to thrive as a freelancer.

That is the conclusion of research presented at the annual conference of our Division of Occupational Psychology today by the Chartered Psychologist John Hackston.

He collected data from an online survey of 1308 people, working in the freelance economy, largely in professional or other white-collar roles.

The participants completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, which looks at four aspects of our personality:

  • Extraversion or Introversion (where we get our energy from);
  • Sensing or Intuition (what information we prefer);
  • Thinking or Feeling (what process we use to make decisions);
  • Judging or Perceiving (whether we prefer living in a more structured or more open way).

They also rated themselves and their jobs on characteristics related to freelance work, and commented on the best and worst things about their jobs.

The results showed that people with a preference for Intuition and Perceiving are more likely to become freelance workers than those with a preference for Sensing and Judging, and more likely to have done so for positive reasons rather than because they had to.

Freelancers with a Perceiving preference also tended to see their jobs as more enjoyable and motivating than those with a Judging preference.

John Hackston said:

“The freelance economy is important to modern business. Many organisations employ freelance workers, and they form a significant and growing portion of the workforce.

“This study shows how personality and other factors relate to the personal characteristics of freelance workers, why they take on such jobs, and the characteristics of those jobs they do and do not enjoy.”

“Many people enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working in the freelance economy, but if they know more about their own personality it can help them understand why they enjoy certain aspects of freelance work and dislike others, and help get the most from their jobs.”

You can follow the conference on Twitter via the hashtag #dopconf.


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