The influence of COVID-induced job search anxiety and conspiracy beliefs on job search effort: A within-person investigation.

Allison S. Gabriel, Rebecca L. MacGowan, Mahira L. Ganster, Jerel E. Slaughter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


New labor market entrants face significant hurdles when searching for a job, with these stressors likely amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we consider how COVID-induced job search anxiety—feeling anxious about one’s job search due to issues imposed by the pandemic—has the potential to affect adaptive, goal-directed efforts, and maladaptive, goal-avoidant reactions. We theorize that this anxiety can prompt job seekers to engage in problem-solving pondering and affect-focused rumination, with these experiences relating to whether job seekers engage in various forms of search-related efforts the following week. In particular, we consider whether job seekers are engaging in dream job search effort (i.e., effort toward pursuing one’s dream job), as well as focused (i.e., effort toward a selection of carefully screened jobs), exploratory (i.e., effort toward a wide swath of jobs in a broad manner), and haphazard (i.e., effort toward applying for any job without a clear plan) job search effort. Further, we consider how stable beliefs relevant to the pandemic (i.e., belief in conspiracy theories; belief in COVID-19 being a public health crisis) affect the aforementioned relationships. Using a weekly study of 162 new labor market entrants, results indicated that COVID-induced job search anxiety positively related to problem-solving pondering and affect-focused rumination; problem-solving pondering promoted dream, focused, and exploratory job search effort the following week, whereas affect-focused rumination hindered dream job search effort. Finally, the detrimental effects of COVID-induced job search anxiety via affect-focused rumination were amplified for those who held higher levels of conspiracy theory beliefs. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-673
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • anxiety
  • dream job
  • effort
  • job search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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