Work as a calling: A theoretical model

Ryan D. Duffy, Bryan J. Dik, Richard P. Douglass, Jessica W. England, Brandon L. Velez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Perceiving work as a calling has been positioned as a key pathway to enhancing work-related well-being. However, no formal theory exists attempting to explain predictors and outcomes of living a calling at work. To address this important gap, this article introduces a theoretical, empirically testable model of work as a calling - the Work as Calling Theory (WCT) - that is suitable for the contemporary world of work. Drawing from research and theory in counseling, vocational, multicultural, and industrialorganizational psychology, as well as dozens of quantitative and qualitative studies on calling, the WCT is presented in three parts: (a) predictors of living a calling, (b) variables that moderate and mediate the relation of perceiving a calling to living a calling, and (c) positive (job satisfaction, job performance) and potentially negative (burnout, workaholism, exploitation) outcomes that result from living a calling. Finally, practical implications are suggested for counselors and managers, who respectively may seek to help clients and employees live a calling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-439
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Calling
  • Job satisfaction
  • Theoretical model


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