Does the dark side of a calling exist? Examining potential negative effects

Ryan D. Duffy, Richard P. Douglass, Kelsey L. Autin, Jessica England, Bryan J. Dik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The present studies examined the potential dark side of perceiving and living a calling with diverse samples of employed adults. In Study 1, living a calling and life meaning were found to suppress the relation between perceiving a calling and life satisfaction, resulting in these variables being significantly, negatively related. This suggests that perceiving a calling may predict decreased well-being when it is not lived out and does not provide meaning. In Study 2, participants living a calling did not experience greater burnout, workaholism, or organizational exploitation. Additionally, counter to hypotheses, living a calling was found to be a significant buffer in the relation of burnout/exploitation and job satisfaction. Specifically, the slope of the relation between living a calling and job satisfaction was more pronounced with individuals experiencing high levels of burnout/exploitation. These findings suggest that living a calling may help individuals in difficult working conditions maintain job satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)634-646
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • calling
  • job satisfaction
  • life satisfaction


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