Job Characteristics Index

Job Characteristics Index


Important Information About Using Job Characteristics Index Data

This area includes a series of questions on characteristics of the respondents' current job, such as the amount of variety, amount of autonomy, opportunity to deal with people and develop friendships, opportunity to complete tasks, amount of significance they attributed to their job, and the amount of performance feedback received. Items for this scale, the Job Characteristics Index (JCI), were developed by Sims, Szilagyi, and Keller and are an extension of the work first begun by Turner and Lawrence in 1965.


Year(s) Universe
1979 and 1982 Current/most recent job (including active military job) but not "unable to work" & not working without pay in family business/farm & > 20 hrs/week in CPS section

These variables are limited to the 1979 and 1982 data collections for the NLSY79. Descriptions of the broader range of job characteristic data available for the NLSY79 can be found in the Jobs & Employers section. The JCI was preceded by an instrument developed by Hackman and Oldham known as the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS), dimensions of which are also incorporated in the JCI, although in a simpler format. Comparisons of the JCI and JDS by Dunham et al. have shown that both scales tend to collapse to a one-dimensional scale measuring job complexity. Therefore, the JCI was shortened by selecting one scale item that loaded strongly on each of the dimensions of job complexity shown to be important in earlier research. In their 1976 article, Sims et al. reported the necessary factor analysis scores used to obtain the abbreviated scale. Question and reference numbers for the seven items that compose the shortened JDI scale are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Variables Needed to Construct the Job Characteristics Index: NLSY79

Survey Year Reference Numbers Question Numbers
1979 R00481.-R00486. Questions 23 (1-5)
1982 R07054.-R07059. Questions 36A (1-5)


Dunham, Randall B.; Aldag, Ramon; and Brief, Arthur P.  "Dimensionality of Task Design as Measured by the Job Diagnostic Survey." Academy of Management Journal 20,2 (June 1977): 209-23

Hackman, J.R. and Oldham, J.R.  "Development of the Job Diagnostic Survey."  Journal of Applied Psychology 60 (1975): 159-70.

Sims, Henry R.; Szilagyi, Andrew; and Keller, Robert.  "The Measurement of Job Characteristics."  Academy of Management Journal 26,2 (June 1976): 195-212.

Survey Instruments and Documentation These questions are found within the "Current Labor Force Status" or "CPS" sections of each questionnaire. The NLSY79 variables have been placed within the "Misc. 1979" and "Misc. 1982" files.