Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupation and nihilism

General Social Survey (GSS) participants were asked if they agree that life serves no purpose. Answers range from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). I calculated the mean by occupation and list below the top and bottom five:

Nihilism--Top Five Means 

Farm workers 2.20
Health aide 1.91
Construction laborers 1.89
Sewing machine operator 1.88
Farmers 1.86
Machine operator 1.86

Nihilism--Bottom Five Means

Sales supevisor 1.30
Other finanical officers 1.25
Financial managers 1.20
Managers 1.19 
Real estates sales 1.17

The difference between farm workers and real estate sales is large--1.3 standard deviations.  Evidently, a sense of meaningless is more of a problem for people with low status, repetitive occupations. Jobs with power and money are correlated with less nihilism.  Perhaps powerlessness is a major source of thinking that life serves no purpose.

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