Teasing apart the relations between age, birth cohort, and vocational interests

Melanie E. Leuty, Jo Ida C. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Empirical evidence supports that aging is related to differences in work attitudes and motivation (Inceoglu, Segers, & Bartram, 2012; Kooij, de Lange, Jansen, Kanfer, & Kikkers, 2011; Ng & Feldman, 2008, 2010), but little research has explored the relations between age and vocational interests. Furthermore, recent studies of age and work attitudes suggest that generational experiences (i.e., birth year) may account for age differences in the workplace (Inceoglu et al., 2012; Ng & Feldman, 2008, 2010), which in turn suggests that researchers need to incorporate both age and birth cohort effects in their designs. Thus, this study was designed to explore the relations of age at the time of testing and birth year to vocational interests using a sample of adults (N = 1,792) collected over a period of 3 decades. As expected, age was not a significant predictor of most interests, but birth year also was not found to predict most interests, with the significant prediction of Realistic interests by both age and birth year being the exception. Gender, however, significantly predicted most areas of interests. Neither age nor gender moderated any relationships between birth year and interests. Results suggest that birth year and age were minimally related to interests as all effect sizes were small. Discussion of the results illustrates the need for further research on this issue and also offers considerations for attracting and retaining different generations of workers in light of the findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-298
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Age
  • Career development
  • Cohort
  • Generation
  • Interests

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