Can genes play a role in explaining frequent job changes? An examination of gene-environment interaction from human capital theory

Wei CHI, Wendong LI, Nan WANG, Zhaoli SONG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


This study examined how a dopamine genetic marker, DRD4 7 Repeat allele, interacted with early life environmental factors (i.e., family socioeconomic status, and neighborhood poverty) to influence job change frequency in adulthood using a national representative sample from the United States. The dopamine gene played a moderating role in the relationship between early life environments and later job change behaviors, which was meditated through educational achievement. In particular, higher family socioeconomic status was associated with higher educational achievement, and thereafter higher frequency of voluntary job changes and lower frequency of involuntary job changes; such relationships were stronger (i.e., more positive or negative) for individuals with more DRD4 7R alleles. In contrast, higher neighborhood poverty was associated with lower educational achievement, and thereafter lower frequency of voluntary job change and higher frequency of involuntary job change; such relationships were again stronger (i.e., more positive or negative) for individuals with more DRD4 7R alleles. The results demonstrated that molecular genetics using DNA information, along with early life environmental factors, can bring new insights to enhance our understanding of job change frequency in individuals’ early career development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1030-1044
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • dopamine gene
  • frequent job change
  • education achievement
  • human capital theory
  • gene-environment interaction

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