Perceived overqualification and subjective career success: Is harmonious or obsessive passion beneficial?

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Perceived overqualification may be positively or negatively related to subjective career success. Integrating person-environment fit theory with the dualistic model of passion, we propose that both harmonious and obsessive passion may help reconcile misfit perceptions arising from feeling overqualified with implications for subjective career success. We argue the lack of work meaningfulness will explain the proposed buffering effects of work passion. We tested our moderated mediation model across two studies. In Study 1 (N = 422), we demonstrated that surgeons who reported being overqualified and who scored lower on harmonious passion experienced diminished work meaningfulness. Following on, surgeons reported heightened intentions to leave their surgical careers. We constructively replicated these results in a time-lagged Study 2 (N = 201) that included an additional measure of subjective career success—career performance. Across both Studies 1 and 2, obsessive passion did not moderate the proposed effects. The significant moderating result of harmonious, as opposed to obsessive, passion highlighted the importance of autonomous internalization for work in the achievement of subjective career success for workers who feel overqualified. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of this research, as well as articulate opportunities for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalApplied Psychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2024


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