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  • Behav Anal Pract
  • v.13(2); 2020 Jun

Public Perceptions and Understanding of Job Titles Related to Behavior Analysis

Paige s. boydston.

1 Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL USA

Erica S. Jowett Hirst

2 Applied Behavior Analysis, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Dallas Campus, 2101 Waterview Parkway, Richardson, TX 75080 USA

The current paper provides an analysis of results for 2 surveys designed to gather information regarding the general public’s perceptions and understanding of various job titles related to behavior analysis. Survey data were collected using Amazon Mechanical Turk. Information regarding pleasantness and clarity of job titles, as well as common words associated with job titles, is presented and discussed.

Preliminary research on how the technical jargon of behavior analysis may adversely impact wide-scale dissemination has been conducted with some unsurprising results (see Becirevic, Critchfield, & Reed, 2016 ; Critchfield et al., 2017 ): Taken together, these studies demonstrate that the technical (often complicated) terminology of behavior analysis impedes our ability to effectively disseminate and engage in behavior-analytic practice. Furthermore, commentaries on technical jargon have indicated the difficulty with dissemination due to word choice (Doughty, Holloway, Shields, & Kennedy, 2012 ; Lindsley, 1991 ). Behavior analysts have long worried about how to translate the technical terminology of the field into more understandable, marketable, or even tolerable terminology while retaining the meaning and importance of the original terms. For example, Lindsley ( 1991 ) described a 10-step process used to “translate” the wording of precision teaching procedures to make them more palatable to school systems and parents. Additionally, Lindsley discussed how the use of acronyms and application tests (i.e., dead man’s test, leave it test for accomplishment) might be beneficial for a layperson in remembering specific procedures; however, Lindsley’s work appears to have skipped an important and crucial step. Specifically, Lindsley did not identify how laypeople or nonexperts actually perceive behavior-analytic jargon or to what degree their perceptions may impact the social validity of applied behavior analysis (e.g., behavior analysis as it applies to clinical applications with children, adolescents, and adults).

It seems that behavior analysts should be planful in dissemination efforts by identifying variables relevant to dissemination, such as perception and acceptability of behavior-analytic terminology. Witt, Moe, Gutkin, and Andrews ( 1984 ) evaluated how the language used in interventions affected teacher acceptability of behavioral procedures in a school setting in an attempt to identify a variable that may impact dissemination. The authors used several types of descriptions for problem behavior interventions, including pragmatic and behavioral reasons. Pragmatic descriptions included providing a rationale that the intervention in question was a logical consequence of the targeted behavior. Behavioral definitions included providing a rationale for the intervention using technical jargon (e.g., contingent application, punishment). Pragmatic descriptions were rated as significantly more acceptable on an acceptability measure when compared to behavioral descriptions. Additionally, the authors found that interventions were rated as more acceptable with more severe client cases, particularly among teachers who had fewer years of experience.

Despite being more than 30 years old, the results of Witt et al. ( 1984 ) are particularly noteworthy because they shed light on variables that might adversely impact the dissemination of behavior analysis on a broader scale. For example, if individuals from a variety of professions find behavioral descriptions less acceptable than the descriptions of competing intervention models (e.g., sensory diets, fad diets), behavior analysis as a field may find it difficult to disseminate among those other professions. Furthermore, assuming the use of technical language is an issue, the work of Witt et al. demonstrates that this is not a recent development; in fact, we have known about this issue for over 30 years. Although there is a growing body of research on behavior-analytic terminology in the time since Witt et al., more studies are needed to investigate the widespread impact of word choice as it relates specifically to marketing behavior analysis.

The issue of overly technical terminology in behavior analysis has been discussed in increasing detail. For example, Malott ( 2018 ) discussed the challenges of pairing “obvious English” with the technical vocabulary to reinforce dissemination and decrease response effort. In another example of research focusing on evaluating the effects of using technical terminology, Becirevic et al. ( 2016 ) reported on how the general public reacted to technical behavioral jargon as compared to their reactions to substituted and nontechnical terms (e.g., escape extinction and follow-through training; operant conditioning and learning from consequences) across 10 potential client populations (e.g., employees, athletes, children with special needs). Five of six substituted and nontechnical terms were rated as more acceptable when compared to their behavior-analytic counterparts. Interestingly, reinforcement was rated as more acceptable than the term incentivizing for 8 of 10 potential client populations. The authors suggest that the results of their study add more evidence to the notion that behavior analysts have a marketing problem and that behavior-analytic language may be a barrier to effective dissemination. Similarly, Critchfield et al. ( 2017 ) identified the degree to which 39 different behavior-analytic terms were considered unpleasant by laypeople, and the authors found that 60% of the behavior-analytic terms were rated as unpleasant, as compared to ratings of general science words, behavioral assessment words, and general clinical words, which were rated as unpleasant at 33%, 33%, and 47%, respectively. The authors suggest that their results generally indicated that behavior-analytic language has a tendency to be abrasive to laypeople and nonexperts. Although current data suggest several considerations (e.g., the use of behavior-analytic terms and terminology) for how behavior analysts should interact with others, little is known regarding how behavior analysts are perceived based solely on their job title or professional label.

If the technical jargon of behavior analysis is seen as less acceptable than substitutes, perhaps even the title of Board Certified Behavior Analyst® is off-putting and adversely impacts both practice and dissemination. In fact, Hantula, Critchfield, and Rasmussen ( 2017 ) note that the previous title of the journal Perspectives on Behavioral Science —formerly The Behavior Analyst —resulted in several difficulties, including resistance from invited lecturers to submit their talks, and challenges getting submissions from scholars in behavior analysis and other disciplines whose department homes did not feel the journal was sufficiently scholarly, which may have been due in part to the title of the journal. Given the limited amount of research regarding perceptions and acceptability of behavior-analytic terminology, the purpose of the present study was twofold: (a) to identify how laypeople rate various behaviorally related job titles in terms of pleasantness and clarity and (b) to identify how laypeople may define various behaviorally related job titles. Obtaining this type of information may further improve the extent to which behavior analysts, and those working in the field of behavioral sciences, understand how their verbal behavior might need to be monitored or altered. It may also help indicate to what extent (if any) their verbal behavior may impact potential clients, mentees, and collaborators. Descriptive data are necessary to begin to understand how professionals and practitioners might market or present themselves and how they may also modify their behavior to make more large-scale and meaningful impacts with behavior-analytic services. Furthermore, practitioners in behavior analysis have a primary goal of making meaningful changes in others’ lives. Therefore, practitioners should be aware of the impact that the words and terminology used to talk about both themselves and their work may have on listeners in order to remain in alignment with that goal.


To obtain a large sample, the participant pool included individuals with a worker account on Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) who were actively accepting and completing assignments. mTurk is a method of online crowdsourcing using an Internet platform that provides access to a wide array of individuals actively seeking to complete human intelligence tasks (HIT) for payment. This method of research, though relatively new, has been shown to be an important and useful tool in behavioral research (see Crump, McDonnell, & Gureckis, 2013 , as an example), and the use of mTurk has been steadily increasing in behavior-analytic research (e.g., see Becirevic et al., 2016 ; Critchfield et al., 2017 ). For the current study, mTurk workers were required to have an approved HIT total that was greater than 50, with an approval rating greater than 80%. Approved HITs are the number of tasks the worker has completed for payment. The minimum number of approved HITs ensured workers were familiar with completing tasks in the mTurk system. The HIT approval rating is the percentage of submitted HITs that have been accepted for payment (80% acceptance indicates 80% of all completed HITs were approved for payment by the requester and 20% of all completed HITs were rejected by the requester). The approval rating ensured workers had a history of completing HITs appropriately. These requirements were determined to be sufficient for the short and straightforward nature of the surveys. It should be noted that mTurk workers were only allowed to complete each survey once, and any additional completions of the survey were removed from data analysis. Additionally, completed surveys were removed from data analysis if the respondent failed to respond accurately to attention checks embedded within the surveys.

Data collection occurred from August to September 2018. In total, 1,008 original respondents completed the first survey (rating and ranking each job title), taking an average of 4 min, 16 s to complete. In total, 740 original respondents completed the second survey (describing each job title), taking an average of 5 min, 47 s to complete. Participants were compensated $0.03 for completing the first survey and $0.05 for completing the second survey. Participants were only compensated for their completion of each survey one time. Participants were permitted to take both Survey 1 and Survey 2 for payment and data inclusion.

Two separate surveys were created for the present study. Both included generic demographic information (e.g., age, gender, location) and an area for participants to place their mTurk worker identification number (ID) in order to receive payment for appropriate completion of the survey. Each survey contained an opportunity for participants to provide informed consent. If the participants said no to the informed consent question but subsequently completed the survey, their data were removed from the analyses. Two participants indicated no on the informed consent for Survey 2. Both participants were paid for their time, but their data were removed. The general survey instructions indicated the participants needed to provide their mTurk worker ID in order to receive payment. Participants were permitted up to 2 hr to complete each survey and could wait up to 3 days to initiate the survey after accepting the assignment on mTurk. Both surveys contained questions related to the following six job titles: (a) behavioral scientist, (b) behavior specialist, (c) behavior analyst, (d) Board Certified Behavior Analyst, (e) behavioral consultant, and (f) behavior therapist.

Survey 1 asked respondents to rate each job title on a 7-point scale for both pleasantness and clarity (rating scale and full survey available upon request). Participants were then asked to choose the least pleasant, most pleasant, least clear, and most clear job titles out of all six job titles. Survey 2 asked respondents to indicate (in 100 characters or less) what they thought each person did based on the job title (full survey available upon request). Following the completion of data collection on each survey, the experimenters reviewed each of the responses in an exported Excel document. As previously mentioned, duplicate responses and responses that failed attention checks were removed. The experimenter then paid workers if their mTurk ID was present and if they completed the survey with integrity (i.e., wrote responses relevant to the survey question).

Job-title ratings and rankings

All responses were exported into an Excel document. For each job title, the number of responses for each of the 7 points on the rating scale was recorded in a table. The experimenters then used three general categories to display the data, combining the somewhat and very responses into the overall general rating (e.g., somewhat pleasant ratings were combined with very pleasant and pleasant ratings to form one category representative of similar categories). Therefore, for the pleasant rating scale, the categories were unpleasant , neutral , and pleasant . For the clear rating scale, the categories were unclear , neutral , and clear . For the least-to-most rankings, a frequency count was taken and placed in a table for the number of respondents endorsing each job title as the least/most pleasant/clear.

Job-title descriptions

All responses for each of the six job titles were organized using the following sequence: (a) each individual word of every participant’s response was placed in its own cell (by rows) in Excel; (b) words were sorted into alphabetical order; (c) words contained within the job title (e.g., behavioral for behavioral consultant, analyst for Board Certified Behavior Analyst) were removed from the list; (d) the plural versions of words were corrected to the singular version and synonyms were combined (e.g., helps became help ; using became use ); (e) articles, prepositions, pronouns, and other miscellaneous words were removed from the list (e.g., the , a , an , they , she , what ); and finally, (f) low-frequency words were removed (i.e., words that did not appear in each data set more than five times). All lists of omitted words are available upon request from the first author. The process of removing words as mentioned previously resulted in a list of high-frequency words (i.e., words occurring six or more times in each data set) containing nouns, adjectives, and verbs associated with each job title. After a final list of words was obtained for each job title, word clouds were generated using a generic online word cloud generator (WordItOut, n.d. ) for all job titles; however, only select word clouds are presented in the current paper (behavior therapist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst) due to relevance to the most important findings of the study. Additional word clouds are available from the first author upon request.


The demographic information for respondents for both surveys is displayed in Table ​ Table1. 1 . For both surveys, the majority of participants were female (60% in the first survey and 64% in the second survey) and 30–39 years old (39% in the first survey and 37% in the second survey). Interestingly, the majority of respondents had some kind of college degree (e.g., associate’s, master’s) in both surveys (68% and 67%, respectively). Similar to the findings of Paolacci and Chandler ( 2014 ), the majority of respondents in both surveys endorsed being from North America (82% and 84% in the first and second surveys, respectively). Overall, the experimenters believe both survey samples to be as representative of the general population as typical convenience samples (i.e., a college campus).

Respondent Demographics

Survey 1 Job-Title Ratings

Pleasantness of job titles.

The results of the first survey are presented in Tables ​ Tables2, 2 , ​ ,3, 3 , ​ ,4, 4 , ​ ,5, 5 , ​ ,6 6 and ​ and7. 7 . Table ​ Table2 2 displays the unpleasant – pleasant ratings for all six job titles. Overall, Board Certified Behavior Analyst had the highest unpleasant rating (25%). Behavior therapist had the highest pleasant rating (63%). Overall, female participants rated all six job titles slightly higher in pleasantness compared to males (see Table ​ Table5). 5 ). Both female and male participants rated all job titles, on average, as somewhat pleasant . No consistent differences in pleasantness ratings were seen between age groups (see Table ​ Table6); 6 ); however, all scores ranged from an average rating of 4.2–4.98, with a rating of 7 being the highest possible amount on the scale. Additionally, behavioral consultant had the lowest pleasantness rating in five of six age groups.

Pleasantness Rating for Each of the Six Assessed Job-Title Variations

Note. BCBA = Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Clarity Rating for Each of the Six Assessed Job-Title Variations

Ranking for Least to Most Pleasant and Least to Most Clear Job Title Among All Six Assessed Variations

Average Ratings for Females (n = 607) and Males (n = 397)

Note. Analysis of trans data is not included due to the overall low response rate (i.e., <1%). BCBA = Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Average Pleasantness Ratings by Age Group

Average Clarity Ratings by Age Group

Clarity of job titles

Table ​ Table3 3 displays the unclear–clear ratings for all six job titles. Overall, behavioral consultant had the highest unclear rating (30%) with Board Certified Behavior Analyst as the second highest (25%). Behavior therapist had the highest clear rating (78%). Overall, female participants rated five of six job titles slightly higher in clarity compared to males (see Table ​ Table5). 5 ). Both female and male participants rated all job titles, on average, as somewhat clear . No consistent differences in clarity ratings were seen between age groups (see Table ​ Table7); 7 ); however, behavior therapist had the highest average rating out of all six job titles across all six age groups. Overall, scores for clarity ranged from an average of 3.8 to 5.37.

Job-title rankings

Results for the ranking of job titles are presented in Table ​ Table4. 4 . Board Certified Behavior Analyst was rated as the least pleasant (28%) job title when compared to all other titles, and behavior therapist was rated as the most pleasant (28%). The behavioral consultant title was rated as the least clear (28%) job title; however, Board Certified Behavior Analyst was the second least clear (25%), and behavior therapist was rated as the most clear (39%) job title.

Survey 2 Job-Title Descriptions

Results of the second survey are presented in Fig. ​ Fig.1. 1 . Each panel represents a word cloud containing high-frequency words used to describe and define each job title. Word size corresponds to how frequently the word was mentioned by respondents. Words that occurred most frequently for describing the work of a behavior therapist were help , people , issue , someone , and person . Words that occurred most frequently for describing the work of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst were people , study , data , human , and professional . Overall, the word study (or a variant of the word study ) was the most (or one of the most) frequently occurring words for four of six job titles. Additionally, person (including a variant of the word person , such as people or human ) was one of the most frequently occurring words across all six job titles.

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Object name is 40617_2019_384_Fig1_HTML.jpg

Word clouds for the job titles behavior therapist (top panel) and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (bottom panel) with high-frequency words from survey descriptions

The aim of the present study was, first, to understand the degree to which the general population perceives behavior-analytic job titles to be pleasant or clear and, second, to understand what words the general population associates with various behavior-analytic job titles. Board Certified Behavior Analyst was rated highest in the least pleasant category. Despite this rating, when respondents rated the most pleasant title, Board Certified Behavior Analyst ranked third (at 17%) rather than last. These results are interesting, particularly considering that none of the job titles were perfectly reversed across the ranking questions, and it is unlikely that such a large number of participants failed to attend to the question. Instead, these results may suggest that the way the question was phrased influenced the way respondents provided their rankings, particularly based on the subjective nature of rating something as “pleasant” or “unpleasant” (e.g., likeable versus uncomfortable). As noted by Critchfield ( 2018 ), self-report ratings are perhaps an emotional response to the stimuli. Rankings for least clear and most clear were somewhat more consistent. Behavioral consultant was ranked highest in the least clear category and lowest in the most clear category. Additionally, behavior therapist was ranked lowest in the least clear category and highest in the most clear category. Clarity ratings may be slightly less subjective (e.g., self-reporting an understanding of what someone does), potentially accounting for the increased consistency in rankings. Furthermore, it may be beneficial to take ranking into consideration with the results of the high-frequency words (i.e., Fig. ​ Fig.1) 1 ) used to describe some of the job titles. Specifically, behavior therapist was ranked as both the most pleasant and the most clear, with high-frequency words being those that could readily translate to other helping professions (e.g., psychologist, social worker). Furthermore, behavior therapist had the highest average score of all six job titles for all six age groups. Participants may have been able to relate to a therapist title by identifying other common duties of other types of therapists. Some of the most prominent words were help and change . However, high-frequency words for Board Certified Behavior Analyst are less clear, with some of the most prominent words being data or study . Perhaps participants related the Board Certified Behavior Analyst title more closely with medical fields.

Additionally, other authors have analyzed how laypeople may perceive job titles. For example, Phillips and Harris ( 2015 ) explored the impact of job titles (related to hospital staff who might administer anesthesia) on both the participants’ perception of the staff’s background training and the participants’ level of concern with having a person with each title administering their anesthesia during a procedure. For the present study, with respect to words associated with job titles, respondents described the various job titles in a relatively similar manner, using words that are commonly associated with helping professions and academics. Unsurprisingly, the majority of responses for all six job titles could be described as “positive,” or of the nature of creating socially significant changes in other individuals. Although only a handful of respondents were able to produce accurate definitions of each job title, the majority of respondents were able to identify some potentially key components of each profession. In particular, the mention of human , people , others , someone , and person indicate the majority of respondents identified each of the job titles as involving other people, rather than being a solitary profession.

As behavior analysts continue to struggle with dissemination and creating a more marketable public perception of the field, it might be of benefit to identify ways in which we should represent ourselves to the public. The findings of the current study are interesting because results indicate that use of the title of Board Certified Behavior Analyst could perhaps be a hindrance given the low pleasantness and clarity ratings when compared to other similar job titles. However, use of this job title for those seeking employment seems to be beneficial, as 1,043 out of 1,080 job postings appear on the Association for Behavior Analysis International website as a result of the search for “Board Certified Behavior Analyst,” which is understandable given the increased demand for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2019 ). Similarly, the search term “BCBA”® results in 1,072 jobs, and “behavior analyst” results in 1,050 jobs, whereas “behavior therapist” results in slightly fewer jobs, at 1,006. Although fewer job postings result from the term “behavior therapist,” it should be noted that the position of behavior therapist is often qualitatively different than the position of BCBA, as the title behavior therapist often refers to an entry-level position in the field of behavior analysis, such as a Registered Behavior Technician TM .

Although the findings of the current study are interesting and useful, several limitations should be noted. First, data collected were self-report measures, which can oftentimes be inaccurate due to a respondent wishing to please the experimenter or do a good job. In particular, this study provided payment for completion, and respondents could have rushed through providing answers to minimize time spent on completing the survey, or they also may have attempted to answer in a manner they believed would earn them their payment rather than answering truthfully. Second, the study was conducted using an online mass-distribution method, and respondent attending cannot be determined with certainty. For the second survey, although data were excluded for participants who were clearly not providing best effort answers to the questions (e.g., one respondent listed a variety of unrelated famous people in lieu of a definition of each job title, and several others put answers such as nice or very good person ), it is still possible that inattentive answering was missed. Similarly, for the first survey, although attention checks were embedded in the survey (and respondents who answered the attention checks incorrectly had their data removed from analysis), it is possible the respondents were not carefully reading the questions or answering to the best of their ability and may have been selecting random answers. Next, the list of job titles was not comprehensive of all job titles a behavior analyst may use (e.g., behavior technician), and variations of job titles were not used (e.g., behavioral scientist vs. behavior scientist). One final limitation with data collected from online surveys is the possibility of respondents using a search engine to find the correct answers to some of the questions or to familiarize themselves with the job descriptions before rating or ranking each title. This may have led to participants rating or ranking based on what they read about that job title versus how they truly felt reading the job titles. However, it is unlikely that respondents spent any length of time to investigate each job title on the survey given the short average duration for survey completion.

As behavior analysts attempt to move forward and permeate a wider market, several considerations for future research are evident. Although the present study was designed to generate a basic understanding of how laypeople may perceive specific job titles, it may be equally important to gain information from professionals in related fields regarding how they rate both the pleasantness and clarity of job titles, as well as their eagerness to work with various professionals based on their job titles alone. Additionally, although being “board certified” is oftentimes the gold standard for well-trained and qualified practitioners (especially in the realm of treatment services for individuals with developmental disabilities), practitioners should take caution in the way they both market themselves and their companies. Although distinguishing between certified and noncertified practitioners might be important for insurance reimbursement and staff recruitment reasons, the distinction is perhaps less important when advertising services to potential clients. Given the results of the present study, advertising as a behavior therapist may invite more business or inquiries because laypeople may have a better understanding or judgment of the type of services being provided; however, given the language used by insurance companies and advocates of best practice, more research is necessary before making system-wide shifts (e.g., revised titles, changes in descriptions of aspects of applied behavior analysis).

In summary, although the results of the current study did not heavily lean positively toward the job title Board Certified Behavior Analyst as a primary description of practitioners, credentialing for behavior analysts has played a significant role in standardizing practice in behavior analysis (Johnston, Carr, & Mellichap, 2017 ); however, Board Certified Behavior Analyst was also not overwhelmingly perceived as negative. That being said, behavior analysts should consider being mindful of the terms they use both in correspondence and in dissemination, as terminology may determine how they are perceived. If the words we use predict how a person perceives our profession, it is of great importance to achieve a greater understanding of the impact job titles may have on others’ perceptions and our access to communities, because job titles may be the first point of contact in dissemination or collaboration. Researchers and practitioners alike should continue to explore the extent to which behavior-analytic terminology may impact their ability to work with others; furthermore, additional data are needed to identify specific barriers and solutions to successful dissemination and practice.

Author Note

Paige S. Boydston, Behavior Analysis and Therapy Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; Erica S. Jowett Hirst, Applied Behavior Analysis, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Dallas.

No funding was received for this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

The effect of job title status on job evaluation ratings was examined. Eighty-six personnel management students used the Factor Evaluation System (FES) to evaluate two job descriptions. One of three different forms of a secretary and accountant job description, differing only on the status of the job title, was randomly assigned to the subjects. The results showed that job title status significantly influenced job evaluation ratings for both the accounting and secretarial jobs. The implications of these findings are discussed and recommendations are made to avoid the contamination of job evaluation results by job title status.

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Career Research Paper Topics

Career Research 3


1. Career 2. Career construction theory 3. Circumscription and compromise 4. Cognitive information processing in career counseling 5. Erikson’s theory of development 6. History of career studies 7. Holland’s theory of vocational choice 8. Metaphors for careers 9. Minnesota Theory of Work Adjustment 10. Occupational choice 11. Person-environment fit (P-E fit) 12. Positive organizational scholarship 13. Reinforcement theory 14. Social cognitive career theory 15. Social constructionism 16. Social learning theory of career development 17. Super’s career development theory 18. Vocational psychology


The contemporary workplace.

19. Antisocial work behaviors 20. Boundaryless career 21. Churning of jobs 22. Contingent employment 23. Customized careers 24. Downsizing 25. Employability 26. Ethics and careers 27. Job security 28. Knowledge work 29. Outsourcing and offshoring 30. Protean career 31. Psychological contract 32. Spirituality and careers 33. Team-based work 34. Technology and careers 35. Workforce 2020

Cultural and International Perspectives

36. Culture and careers 37. Expatriate experience 38. Globalization and careers 39. International careers 40. Multinational organization 41. Virtual expatriates

Ethnicity, Gender, and Diversity

42. Affirmative action 43. Age discrimination 44. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) 45. Biculturalism 46. Civil Rights Act of 1964 47. Civil Rights Act of 1991 48. Comparable worth 49. Disability 50. Disabilities among college students 51. Diversity in organizations 52. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) 53. Equal Pay Act 54. Gender and careers 55. Glass ceiling 56. Inequality 57. Lockstep career progression 58. Multicultural organization 59. Racial discrimination 60. Religious discrimination 61. Reverse discrimination 62. Sex discrimination 63. Sexual harassment 64. Sexual orientation and careers 65. Stereotyping of workers 66. Tokenism 67. Unbiased hiring systems

The Organizational Environment

68. Industrial Revolution 69. Leadership Development 70. Learning organization 71. Nepotism 72. Organizational justice 73. Organizational politics 74. Procedural justice 75. Toxic leadership

Social Class and Background

76. Blue-collar workers 77. Family background and careers 78. Low-income workers and careers 79. Single parents and careers 80. Socioeconomic status 81. White-collar work

The Work-Life Interface

82. Burnout 83. Careers and health 84. Child care practices 85. Crossover effect 86. Elder care practices 87. Emotional labor 88. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 89. Family-responsive workplace practices 90. Flexible work arrangements 91. Job sharing 92. Part-time employment 93. Stress at work 94. Telecommuting 95. Two-career relationships 96. Unemployment 97. Wellness and fitness programs 98. Work-family balance 99. Work-family conflict 100. Work-family enrichment 101. Work/life litigation 102. Workaholism 103. Workplace romance


104. Anticipatory socialization 105. Assimilation and mutual acceptance 106. Bridge employment 107. Career change 108. Career indecision 109. Career interruptions 110. Career maturity 111. Career plateau 112. Career transition 113. College student career development 114. Continuing professional education 115. Crystallization of vocational self-concept 116. Derailment 117. Early career stage 118. Early retirement 119. Fast-track career 120. Identity 121. Job loss 122. Late career stage 123. Leadership development 124. Lifelong learning 125. Lockstep career progression 126. Mentoring 127. Middle career stage 128. Midlife crisis 129. Obsolescence of knowledge and skills 130. Organizational socialization 131. Phased retirement 132. Pygmalion effect 133. Retirement 134. Reverse mentoring 135. Role models 136. School-to-work transition 137. Self-concept 138. Underemployment 139. Unemployment 140. Welfare-to-work programs


141. Aspirations in career decisions 142. Career appraisal 143. Career decision-making styles 144. Career exploration 145. Career goal 146. Career indecision 147. Career investments 148. Career strategy 149. Environment awareness 150. Human capital 151. Impression management 152. Individual career management 153. Occupational choice 154. Occupational prestige 155. Occupational stereotypes 156. Organizational entry 157. Organizational image 158. Self-awareness 159. Self-efficacy 160. Self-esteem 161. Self-leadership 162. Self-monitoring 163. Social capital 164. Specialty choice 165. Turnover


166. Boundaryless career 167. Career anchors 168. Career as a calling 169. Career mobility 170. Career motivation 171. Career salience 172. Career satisfaction 173. Career success 174. Copreneurship 175. Entrepreneurship 176. Job involvement 177. Job satisfaction 178. Lockstep career progression 179. Morale 180. Motivation and career development 181. Needs 182. Occupational commitment 183. Occupational professionalism 184. Organizational citizenship behavior 185. Organizational commitment 186. Protean career 187. Work ethic 188. Work values 189. Workaholism


190. Academic advising 191. Apprenticeships 192. Assessment centers 193. Career centers 194. Career coaching 195. Career counseling 196. Career counseling competencies 197. Career education 198. Career intervention outcomes 199. Career-planning workshops 200. Child care practices 201. Compensation 202. Computer-based career support systems 203. Continuing professional education 204. Cooperative education 205. Cross-training 206. Elder care practices 207. Employee assistance programs 208. Employee participation in organizational decision making 209. Empowerment 210. Executive coaching 211. Family-responsive workplace practices 212. Flexible work arrangements 213. Human resource information systems (HRIS) 214. Human resource planning 215. Human resource support systems 216. Internships 217. Job challenge 218. Job design 219. Job-posting programs 220. Job rotation 221. Job sharing 222. Leadership development 223. Mentoring 224. Merit-based pay 225. On-the-job training 226. Organizational career management 227. Orientation 228. Outplacement 229. Part-time employment 230. Pay compression 231. Pay-for-performance reward systems 232. Performance appraisal and feedback 233. Pygmalion effect 234. Quality of work life (QWL) 235. Redeployment 236. Retention programs 237. Retraining 238. Reverse mentoring 239. Sabbaticals 240. Strategic human resource management 241. Succession planning 242. Telecommuting 243. Three-hundred-sixty-degree (360°) evaluation 244. Training and development 245. Tuition reimbursement 246. Vocational education 247. Wellness and fitness programs


248. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) 249. Civil Rights Act of 1964 250. Civil Rights Act of 1991 251. Collective bargaining 252. Domestic partner benefits 253. Employment contracts 254. Employment-at-will doctrine 255. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) 256. Equal Pay Act 257. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 258. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 259. Hostile working environment 260. National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) 261. Sweatshop labor 262. Work/life litigation 263. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1992 (WARN) 264. Wrongful dismissal


265. Abilities 266. Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values 267. Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) 268. Assessment centers 269. Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test 270. Big Five factors of personality 271. Business simulations 272. Butcher Treatment Planning Inventory (BPTI) 273. California Psychological Inventory 274. Campbell Interest and Skill Survey 275. Career anchors 276. Career decision-making styles 277. Career Decision Scale (CDS) 278. Career Development Inventory 279. Career maturity 280. Career Thoughts Inventory 281. Cognitive Differentiation Grid 282. Differential aptitude testing 283. Emotional intelligence 284. FIRO-B 285. General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) 286. Hall Occupational Orientation Inventory 287. Intelligence, schooling, and occupational success 288. Interests 289. Kuder Career Assessments 290. Learning styles 291. Leisure interests 292. Life Style Inventory 293. Life-Career Rainbow 294. Lifestyle preferences 295. Locus of control 296. Machiavellianism 297. Minnesota Clerical Test 298. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) 299. Multiple intelligences 300. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator 301. Needs 302. Occupational card sorts 303. Occupational classification systems 304. Personal Globe Inventory 305. Personality and careers 306. Proactivity 307. Rokeach Values Survey 308. Self-Directed Search (SDS) 309. Sixteen Personality Questionnaire (16PF) 310. Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale 311. Strong Interest Inventory 312. Thematic apperception tests (TAT) 313. Tolerance for ambiguity 314. Type A behavior pattern 315. Values 316. Vocational Preference Inventory (VPI) 317. Wechsler Intelligence Scales 318. Wonderlic Personnel Test 319. Work values 320. Work Values Inventory


321. Electronic employment screening 322. Employment advertising 323. Exit interview 324. Handwriting analysis in hiring 325. Informational interview 326. Integrity testing 327. Internal labor markets 328. Internet career assessment 329. Internet recruitment 330. Job fairs 331. Job interviews 332. Job search 333. Knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) 334. Networking 335. Occupational Information Network (O*NET) 336. Occupational Outlook Handbook 337. Organizational entry 338. Organizational image 339. Organizational staffing 340. Personnel selection 341. Realistic recruitment 342. Recruitment 343. References for employment 344. Resume 345. Unbiased hiring systems


346. American Counseling Association 347. American Psychological Association 348. Center for Creative Leadership 349. National Career Development Association

Career Research 1

Our goal was to make this collection the premier reference tool for students, scholars, practitioners, and others interested in gaining knowledge or conducting research on career-related research paper topics. We have kept the topical essays concise, easy to read, and jargon free, while ensuring that the content reflects the most current thinking and research on the particular topic. We have provided essays that are directly related to the field of career development and have expressly avoided tangential topics or biographical profiles that add pages but do not improve the content. Browse our career research site.


job title research paper


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How to Write a Research Paper Title with Examples

job title research paper

What is a research paper title and why does it matter?

Making a title for your research is one of the most important decisions when writing an article to publish in journals. The research title is the first thing that journal editors and reviewers see when they look at your paper and the only piece of information that fellow researchers will see in a database or search engine query. Good titles that are concise and contain all the relevant terms have been shown to increase citation counts and Altmetric scores .

Therefore, when you title research work, make sure it captures all of the relevant aspects of your study, including the specific topic and problem being investigated. It also should present these elements in a way that is accessible and will captivate readers. Follow these steps to learn how to make a good research title for your work.

How to Write a Research Paper Title in 5 Steps

You might wonder how you are supposed to pick a title from all the content that your manuscript contains—how are you supposed to choose? What will make your research paper title come up in search engines and what will make the people in your field read it? 

In a nutshell, your research title should accurately capture what you have done, it should sound interesting to the people who work on the same or a similar topic, and it should contain the important title keywords that other researchers use when looking for literature in databases. To make the title writing process as simple as possible, we have broken it down into 5 simple steps.

Step 1: Answer some key questions about your research paper

What does your paper seek to answer and what does it accomplish? Try to answer these questions as briefly as possible. You can create these questions by going through each section of your paper and finding the MOST relevant information to make a research title.

Step 2: Identify research study keywords

Now that you have answers to your research questions, find the most important parts of these responses and make these your study keywords. Note that you should only choose the most important terms for your keywords–journals usually request anywhere from 3 to 8 keywords maximum.

Step 3: Research title writing: use these keywords

“We employed a case study of 60 liver transplant patients around the US aged 20-50 years to assess how waiting list volume affects the outcomes of liver transplantation in patients; results indicate a positive correlation between increased waiting list volume and negative prognosis after the transplant procedure.”

The sentence above is clearly much too long for a research paper title. This is why you will trim and polish your title in the next two steps.

Step 4: Create a working research paper title

To create a working title, remove elements that make it a complete “sentence” but keep everything that is important to what the study is about. Delete all unnecessary and redundant words that are not central to the study or that researchers would most likely not use in a database search.

“ We employed a case study of 60 liver transplant patients around the US aged 20-50 years to assess how the waiting list volume affects the outcome of liver transplantation in patients ; results indicate a positive correlation between increased waiting list volume and a negative prognosis after transplant procedure ”

Now shift some words around for proper syntax and rephrase it a bit to shorten the length and make it leaner and more natural. What you are left with is:

“A case study of 60 liver transplant patients around the US aged 20-50 years assessing the impact of waiting list volume on outcome of transplantation and showing a positive correlation between increased waiting list volume and a negative prognosis” (Word Count: 38)

This text is getting closer to what we want in a research title, which is just the most important information. But note that the word count for this working title is still 38 words, whereas the average length of published journal article titles is 16 words or fewer. Therefore, we should eliminate some words and phrases that are not essential to this title.

Step 5: Remove any nonessential words and phrases from your title

Because the number of patients studied and the exact outcome are not the most essential parts of this paper, remove these elements first:

 “A case study of 60 liver transplant patients around the US aged 20-50 years assessing the impact of waiting list volume on outcomes of transplantation and showing a positive correlation between increased waiting list volume and a negative prognosis” (Word Count: 19)

In addition, the methods used in a study are not usually the most searched-for keywords in databases and represent additional details that you may want to remove to make your title leaner. So what is left is:

“Assessing the impact of waiting list volume on outcome and prognosis in liver transplantation patients” (Word Count: 15)

In this final version of the title, one can immediately recognize the subject and what objectives the study aims to achieve. Note that the most important terms appear at the beginning and end of the title: “Assessing,” which is the main action of the study, is placed at the beginning; and “liver transplantation patients,” the specific subject of the study, is placed at the end.

This will aid significantly in your research paper title being found in search engines and database queries, which means that a lot more researchers will be able to locate your article once it is published. In fact, a 2014 review of more than 150,000 papers submitted to the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) database found the style of a paper’s title impacted the number of citations it would typically receive. In most disciplines, articles with shorter, more concise titles yielded more citations.

Adding a Research Paper Subtitle

If your title might require a subtitle to provide more immediate details about your methodology or sample, you can do this by adding this information after a colon:

“ : a case study of US adult patients ages 20-25”

If we abide strictly by our word count rule this may not be necessary or recommended. But every journal has its own standard formatting and style guidelines for research paper titles, so it is a good idea to be aware of the specific journal author instructions , not just when you write the manuscript but also to decide how to create a good title for it.

Research Paper Title Examples

The title examples in the following table illustrate how a title can be interesting but incomplete, complete by uninteresting, complete and interesting but too informal in tone, or some other combination of these. A good research paper title should meet all the requirements in the four columns below.

Tips on Formulating a Good Research Paper Title

In addition to the steps given above, there are a few other important things you want to keep in mind when it comes to how to write a research paper title, regarding formatting, word count, and content:

Research Paper Writing Resources

We hope this article has been helpful in teaching you how to craft your research paper title. But you might still want to dig deeper into different journal title formats and categories that might be more suitable for specific article types or need help with writing a cover letter for your manuscript submission.

In addition to getting English proofreading services , including paper editing services , before submission to journals, be sure to visit our academic resources papers. Here you can find dozens of articles on manuscript writing, from drafting an outline to finding a target journal to submit to.

The Effects of Employee Job Titles on Respect Granted by Customers

Seventh International Engaged Management Scholarship Conference

18 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2017 Last revised: 31 Aug 2017

Kipp Krukowski

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater - Spears School of Business

Date Written: September 8, 2017

Job titles are symbols that can communicate employee attributes and roles within an organization. Companies use job titles to convey qualities of their workers to individuals both inside and outside of the firm. Using signaling theory, this essay discusses how job titles can affect the behavior of customers through information asymmetry, thus allowing employers to potentially influence behaviors. Looking from the other perspective, this essay develops a hypothesis related to the level of respect that customers display towards frontline service employees and how their level of respect may be influenced by employee job titles. A second hypothesis is proposed related to customer perceived value of a transaction and how value may provide a moderating role on the level of respect granted to the employee in the customer-employee interaction.

Keywords: signaling theory, job titles, customer-employee interaction, frontline employees, respect

Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation

Kipp Krukowski (Contact Author)

Oklahoma state university - stillwater - spears school of business ( email ).

201 Business Stillwater, OK 74078-0555 United States

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Article Better Job Titles- A Reflection Of Work Satisfaction

Better Job Titles – A Reflection Of Work Satisfaction

The recent inflation trend in job titles is something that is ringing alarm bells globally. So, what does it mean? Or, more importantly, do job titles really reflect work satisfaction?

Better Job Titles: Research suggests job titles not only boost self-confidence but also help improve mental and social well-being.

Besides, job titles also affect an employee’s performance.

However, the recent inflation trend in job titles is something that is ringing alarm bells globally.

So, what does it mean? Or, more importantly, do job titles really reflect work satisfaction?

Keep reading to find out.

Inflation In Job Titles

According to a report, the ratio of managers in the retail sector earning less than £400 per week increased from 37% in the 2000s to 60% in 2012.

Clearly, there is a screaming concern in this report – what do job titles have to offer, apart from financial rewards?

First of all, there is social recognition.

As the Nobel Laureate John Harsanyi once said, “social status, apart from economic reward, seems to be the most important incentive and motivating force.”

Since a powerful job title signifies social status , it should not come as a surprise that many workers aspire for them. Perhaps, often without the salary appraisals.

For example, the title of a “vice president” at some bank can trigger high recognition in public, bringing in respect for the bearer.

Title And Human Behavior

It is noteworthy here that fancy titles don’t always reflect status. Sometimes, a fancy title may only be created to influence human behavior.

For example, Disneyland employees are not called staff but instead cast members, as pointed out by Susan Fenters Lerch, the former CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation, after attending a conference in 2013.

Upon returning to the office, she asked her employees to create their own “fun” job titles. Of course, the new titles were used as an alias for their official ones, but the initiative helped create a unique identity for them in the organization.

In fact, surprisingly, she titled herself as “fairy godmother of wishes.” The COO of the organization also chose a fun title – “minister of dollars and sense.”

The whole point of this exercise was to reduce emotional exhaustion for workers. And it did help them cope with their emotional challenges as a result.

Subsequently, work satisfaction levels improved on various grounds for the employees and volunteers. (We’ll come to it in the next section.) The results were supported by research from behavior experts at the University of Pennsylvania and the London Business School.

One of the researchers, Daniel Cable explained that co-workers started viewing each other as a human, and not just job colleagues. He adds, the workers reported lower levels of emotional exhaustion after a few weeks. And he even verified the results – an 11% drop in reported burnout.

Later, the team also tested their findings in a hospital, where similar results were observed. For example, an infectious disease specialist called himself “germ slayer,” while an X-ray technician chose the title “bone seeker.”

Ani Kolleshi 7Jjnj Qa9Fy Unsplash 1 Scaled

Similarly, health professionals going for unique recognitions such as a Nurse Health Coach Certification or something similar says they find it more convincing to go to work with their new titles and recognitions.

Clearly, the job titles are closely related to emotional wellbeing. Indeed, they do reflect an employee’s identity. However, the identity can be a reason for concern long before someone applies for and takes up a job.

A perfect example here would be how the social media company “Buffer” increased females on their technical team. Back in 2015, when the company realized they didn’t have any technical women on the team, they chose to replace the job title. Instead of “hacker,” it now said “developer.”

And, as a result, the number of female applicants increased impressively. Two years later, the team had 11.5% females on their technical team.

Title And Work Satisfaction

Better titles accentuate a sense of achievement. Typically, a senior-sounding title can encourage an employee to act more responsibly. And as a result, they may feel happier coming to work every day.

According to Jeffrey Lucas, a sociology professor, high-status job titles can also affect an employee’s tenure at a company. For instance, a high-performing employee seeks recognition. And offering them a high-status job title can stop them from leaving.

Jeffrey conducted two separate experiments in 1999, more than two decades ago. His conclusions, however, still stand strong.

He says workers with important titles display more satisfaction and commitment. He also adds that important-sounding job titles make them perform better and lowers their turnover intentions.

It is also noteworthy that, according to Jeffrey, fancy titles are not likely to have many positive consequences. On the other hand, people actually perceive job titles as serious social status indicators.

Another study from UC Berkeley carried out in 2013 reports high-authority position holders can recover from mild rejections more quickly.

For the study, doctoral student Maya Kuehn assigned roles to the participants. Some were given low-level positions, while others were given high-level positions.

On being told that they were not invited to an office gathering, the responses for both groups varied.

While the junior position holders reported feeling hurt, the senior position holders tried finding other ways to bond with colleagues.

Holacracy VS Hierarchy

Another interesting area to study is hierarchy and holacracy and how do they affect employees.

Studies reveal that job titles following a flat structure can boost self-esteem for already deferential people in an organization.

In contrast, a hierarchical structure may sometimes have a negative influence on individual personalities.

According to a founder of a software company, readjusting the traditional hierarchy has helped him to a great extent. His employees can maintain their autonomy and still manage critical tasks while being titled similar to each other.

The approach in the latter case is known as holacracy, which goes beyond the typical hierarchical structure. Perhaps, the company structure is quite popular and has been adopted by thousands of small and medium scale businesses.

In holacracy, rather than one job description fitting all, every individual identifies their own roles and responsibilities. And the job descriptions are updated regularly.

The Bottomline

Whether holacracy or hierarchy, the titles still influence personal behavior and reflect their satisfaction with a job profile.

Irrespective of the financial rewards that come with a job title, the workers perform better and are less likely to leave. As a result, companies and organizations can retain talent without compromising too much on the financial front.


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job title research paper

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Can a job title change your behaviour?

(Credit: Alamy)

Do impressive-sounding, inspirational, or downright silly job titles make us feel better about ourselves? Can they, in fact, change our behaviour?

Research suggests that job titles have the power to improve our wellbeing and sense of control, shield us from feeling socially snubbed, and even encourage us to apply for a job in the first place.

Inflationary trend

A 2012 report by the Resolution Foundation, a British think-tank, found job title inflation in the UK was growing, with more workers having a “senior-sounding” job title with a middle-ranking wage. The proportion of managers in retail earning below £400 ($543) a week, for example, increased from 37% to almost 60% in the 2000s.

The proportion of managers in retail earning below £400 a week increased from 37% to almost 60% in the 2000s

This raises the question: what comes with a boost in job title, if not financial reward? Well, first, status. Nobel Laureate economist John Harsanyi once said that, aside from economic reward , social status “seems to be the most important incentive and motivating force of social behaviour”.

Since a powerful-sounding job title can signify social status, it’s not surprising workers aspire to them, often without the salary or responsibilities to match.

You might also like:

- Why do companies ban certain words? - The rise of the micro-job - It’s time to put a stop to ludicrous job titles

The title of ‘vice president’ at bank Merrill Lynch, for example, can act as a “public signal that employees bearing the titles were of high value,” according to a 2010 study by the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business . But a former vice president of the bank, the paper states, said the job title was an “honorific earned by an individual… rather than a descriptive attached to a specific position in the firm.”

Being a vice president at Merrill Lynch shows you've made it – but does the title actually hold much meaning? (Credit: Getty Images)

Being a vice president at Merrill Lynch shows you've made it – but does the title actually hold much meaning? (Credit: Getty Images)

Fancy titles, fun times?

But, a fancy title isn’t always about status. Simply making a title more fun can influence behaviour, researchers have found.

After attending a conference at Disneyland in 2013 and upon discovering that employees there were called ‘cast members,’ Susan Fenters Lerch felt inspired.

The former CEO of the non-profit organisation Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, returned to her office and told employees they could create their own “fun” job title, in addition to their official one, to reflect “their most important roles and identities in the organisation.”

She chose “fairy godmother of wishes” for herself, and the chief operating officer went with “minister of dollars and sense.”

‘Self-reflective’ job titles reduced workers’ emotional exhaustion, helped them cope with emotional challenges, and let them affirm their identity

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the London Business School interviewed these employees a year and a half after Lerch’s decision, and found that their “self-reflective” job titles reduced workers’ emotional exhaustion, helped them cope with emotional challenges, and let them affirm their identity at work.

 “The titles opened the door for colleagues to view one another as human beings, not merely job-holders,” says researcher Daniel Cable.

Cable and his team later tested their findings in hospitals, where they asked workers to give themselves new job titles. An infectious disease specialist became a “germ slayer,” and an X-ray technician was dubbed a “bone seeker”.

A bone seeker hard at work (Credit: Getty Images)

A bone seeker hard at work (Credit: Getty Images)

The workers reported lower levels of emotional exhaustion after five weeks, and reported an 11% decrease in reported burnout.

How closely related our job titles are to our emotional wellbeing suggests they can and do reflect our identity – but identity can be a factor even before we apply for a job.

Social media company Buffer realised in early 2015 that it had no technical women on the team. So, it replaced the word “hacker” in its job titles with “developer” - and subsequently increased the number of female applicants. Now 11.5% of the technical team are women.

Behavioural impact

Researchers have also found that giving an employee a more senior-sounding title can make them act more responsibly by making them feel happier at work.

Sociology professor Jeffrey Lucas found that giving high-performing employees a high-status job title could stop them from leaving. He carried out two experiments and discovered that workers with important-sounding job titles “displayed greater satisfaction, commitment, and performance and lower turnover intentions” than those who didn’t.

The study is from 1999, and so almost two decades old. But Lucas, now at the University of Maryland, says he thinks the findings still stand. “In fact,” he says, “a good deal of research since that article has confirmed that people prefer and enjoy the benefits that come from high status positions.

Fancy titles that people perceive as being nothing more than just that would be unlikely to have positive consequences – Jeffrey Lucas

“However, as far as job titles go, it's important that people actually perceive the titles as conferring status. In other words, fancy titles that people perceive as being nothing more than just that would be unlikely to have positive consequences.”

Those in positions of assigned authority are quicker to recover from mild rejection, according to a 2013 study from UC Berkeley .

Doctoral student Maya Kuehn assigned participants to a hypothetical low- or high-level employee position, and told them they weren’t invited to an office gathering. Those participants who were assigned a low-level status reported feeling hurt, whereas high-powered assignees sought other ways to bond with colleagues.

More than a cog

And at the other end of the scale, job titles that reflect a flat structure can make previously deferential people feel more powerful.

Brian Robertson says his system of holacracy helps workers feel like more than a cog in a machine (Credit: Alamy)

Brian Robertson says his system of holacracy helps workers feel like more than a cog in a machine (Credit: Alamy)

When Brian Robertson founded software company HolacracyOne in 2007, he reworked the traditional workplace hierarchy with the aim of increasing workers’ autonomy and self-management.

This method, known as holacracy, has been adopted by around 1,000 companies and organisations. Job descriptions play a large part in this structure – rather than having one job description, people fill several roles and these descriptions are updated regularly, Robertson says.

It’s an adjustment for those who are motivated by status. For others, it helps them feel like more than just a “cog in the machine”.

“There’s a mind-shift from, ‘I get my sense of identity from my job title,’ to, ‘I get my sense of identity by the kind of person I am, the passions I have and how I creatively express myself,” says Robertson.

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job title research paper


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