Intrinsic work value-reward dissonance and work satisfaction during young adulthood

Erik J. Porfeli, Jeylan T. Mortimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Previous research suggests that discrepancies between work values and rewards are indicators of dissonance that induce change in both to reduce such dissonance over time. The present study elaborates this model to suggest parallels with the first phase of the extension-and-strain curve. Small discrepancies or small increases in extension are presumed to be almost unnoticeable, while increasingly large discrepancies are thought to yield exponentially increasing strain. Work satisfaction is a principal outcome of dissonance; hence, work value-reward discrepancies are predicted to diminish work satisfaction in an exponential fashion. Findings from the work and family literature, however, lead to the prediction that this curvilinear association will be moderated by gender and family roles. Using longitudinal data spanning the third decade of life, the results suggest that intrinsic work value-reward discrepancies, as predicted, are increasingly associated, in a negative curvilinear fashion, with work satisfaction. This pattern, however, differs as a function of gender and family roles. Females who established family roles exhibited the expected pattern while other gender by family status groups did not. The results suggest that gender and family roles moderate the association between intrinsic work value-reward dissonance and satisfaction. In addition, women who remained unmarried and childless exhibited the strongest associations between occupational rewards and satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-519
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010


  • Career
  • Discrepancy
  • Dissonance
  • Intrinsic
  • Rewards
  • Satisfaction
  • Values
  • Work
  • Young adulthood


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