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Be Happy, don't Wait: The Role of Trait Affect in Job Search


  • The authors thank Matthew Reiske for his help with data collection and Thomas Dougherty and Christopher Robert for their comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. The research was supported by the Stephen Furbacher Professorship provided to the first author.

  • At the time of data collection, all authors were affiliated with the Department of Management, University of Missouri. Serge P. da Motta Veiga will be affiliated with the Department of Management, Lehigh University starting in August 2013.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Daniel Turban, Department of Management, 517 Cornell Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211;


In this study we developed and tested a self-regulatory model of trait affect in job search. Specifically, we theorized that trait positive and negative affect would influence both motivation control and procrastination, and these mediating variables would, in turn, influence job search outcomes through job search intensity. Using longitudinal data from 245 graduating students who were searching for a full-time position, we found that positive, but not negative, affect influenced the self-regulatory variables of motivation control and procrastination, which in turn influenced the job search outcomes. Procrastination had direct effects on the number of first interviews, controlling for job search intensity, and on the number of second interviews, controlling for first interviews, suggesting the importance of timeliness of job search activities. We discuss the implications of such results for understanding the role of affect and self-regulation in the job search process and for measuring the quality as well as quantity (i.e., intensity) of job search tactics.