This study attempts to clarify conceptual and operational inconsistencies in the literature around “Ghiselli’s hobo syndrome.” I propose that defining characteristics of hobo syndrome should include both the exhibition of frequent job movement behavior and positive attitudes about such behavior. This definition effectively differentiates the construct from other similar phenomena associated with frequent job movement (e.g., job/career mobility, protean careers). Using latent class cluster analysis of a diverse sample of 944 U.S. workers, it was empirically validated that a small number of individuals resembling the proposed characteristics of hobos did emerge as a distinct group (N = 42), providing person-centered evidence for the construct validity of hobo syndrome. The dispositional roots of hobo syndrome and work-related outcomes were also explored. It was found that individuals with high levels of openness to experience were likely to exhibit hobo syndrome, whereas impulsivity was not related to such tendency. Also, workers who were more likely to be categorized as hobos tended to report less positive views about their current jobs. Based on these findings, implications for research and practice are discussed.


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Vocational Behavior. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Vocational Behavior, [79, 2, (2011)] DOI#10.1016/j.jvb.2011.02.003


hobo syndrome, person-centered, latent class analysis, turnover

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