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How Your Job Can Shape Your Brain and Cognitive Abilities

It's no secret that our jobs have a significant impact on our lives. We spend a large portion of our waking hours working, and our jobs can affect our physical and mental health, social lives, and overall well-being. But did you know that your job can also shape your cognitive abilities?

At Herrmann International, we often get asked about factors that may result in changing someone’s HBDI®. Significant life changes, such as starting a new job, the birth of a child, moving to a different city or country, or the death of a close relationship, can all impact one’s cognitive preferences. A recent article by the British Psychological Society highlights how one’s job can shape cognitive abilities.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the type of work you do can significantly impact your cognitive abilities over time. The study looked at data from over 1,000 individuals who had completed cognitive ability tests at three different points in their careers: early career (ages 18-25), mid-career (ages 26-39), and late career (ages 40-55).

The researchers found that individuals with more cognitively demanding jobs exhibited stronger executive functions, while those in creative roles enhanced fluid intelligence and cognitive flexibility. The study also found that individuals with less cognitively demanding jobs showed a decline in cognitive abilities.

So, what does this mean for you and your career? It means that the type of work you do can significantly impact your cognitive abilities over time.

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Another study by researchers from the University of Cambridge found that an individual’s job can influence cognitive skills. The study analyzed data from over 90,000 participants in the UK Biobank, examining the relationship between their occupation and cognitive performance in various domains, such as memory, attention, and reasoning.

Results showed that people in more cognitively demanding jobs, particularly those requiring complex problem-solving and management skills, performed better in tests assessing fluid intelligence, which involves reasoning and problem-solving abilities. In contrast, those in jobs requiring manual skills and physical labor displayed better performance in tests assessing crystallized intelligence based on knowledge and experience.

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This research reinforces the idea that our professional experiences and the tasks we perform at work can shape our cognitive abilities, contributing to changes in our HBDI® profiles. By understanding and embracing these changes, we can better adapt to new life roles and challenges. Download the Diversity of Thought whitepaper to find out more.

The four-color, four-quadrant graphic, HBDI® and Whole Brain® are trademarks of Herrmann Global, LLC.

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