Date of Award

Summer 2023

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

M. Gloria González-Morales

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Michelle Bligh

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Cindi Gilliland

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Ellen Ensher

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2023 Megan Benzing


Calling, Mentorship, Support, Volition

Subject Categories

Organizational Behavior and Theory | Psychology


The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way people think about the role that their job plays in their life. There is a greater desire for purposeful work and engaging in a role that positively impacts society, or more simply, to perceive and live a calling. One perceives a calling when they know the occupation that they were destined for or that fits with their values, where their strengths and passions are leveraged, and the job is prosocial in nature. However, perceiving this calling is only a piece of it, as one needs to work in a role where they actively live their calling. Those who solely perceive, but do not live their calling are vulnerable to detrimental psychological and physical consequences. Study 1 of this dissertation used latent profile analysis to determine distinct profiles of participants with varying levels of perceiving a calling and living a calling. With a sample of 498 adults recruited through Prolific, a four-profile solution emerged with the following profiles: “Enacted Calling” (high perceiving a calling, high living a calling), “Average Calling” (average perceiving a calling, average living a calling), “Unanswered Calling” (high perceiving a calling, low living a calling), and “Absent Calling” (low perceiving a calling, low living a calling). Two resources were examined as predictors of group membership: calling motivation to proactively seek a state of lived calling and work volition in terms of perceived agency over occupational choices despite potential barriers. The results revealed that the greater the extent to which participants had calling motivation and work volition, the more likely they were to be classified into the “Enacted Calling” group. Results also revealed that participants with lower work volition were more likely to be classified into the “Unanswered Calling” group. These results suggest that individuals who have both high calling motivation and high work volition are more likely to find themselves in a state of living out their calling, which is aligned with many positive outcomes. Results also suggest that individuals who suffer from not living out their calling (i.e., having an unanswered calling) perceive low agency over their occupational choices. Study 2 of this dissertation used path analysis to test the impact of two types of mentoring support (psychosocial and instrumental) on the calling experience, with a sample of 292 participants from the same sample as Study 1 who responded to all four surveys of the study over eight weeks. Results revealed that psychosocial support positively impacted living a calling and instrumental support positively impacted work volition, which in turn predicted living a calling. Calling motivation was also found to be a predictor of living a calling. These results further demonstrate the key impact that calling motivation and work volition have on living a calling, and adds the dimension that mentors can be leveraged as a relational tool to further protégés on their pathway to reaching a state of enacted calling. Study 3 of the dissertation involved an exploratory analysis of the mentoring relationships involved in Study 2. The 292 protégés reported the details of their mentoring relationship and how similar they were to their mentor on several characteristics. Results revealed that there was an impact of formality, ethnicity similarity, deep-level similarity (e.g., values, beliefs), and industry similarity on protégés who received psychosocial and instrumental support. These results inform practical considerations a protégé may take in seeking a mentor to help them live out their calling.