Climbing the career ladder and then sneaking out the window? – New study explores the impact of ambition on quitting tendencies

Although some managers are reluctant to hire ambitious people for fear that they will leave for greener pastures, a study by indicates that it’s the unambitious ones who are more likely to skip out.

MONTREAL, June 18, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Imagine being an HR manager for a moment. In walks a job candidate who is young and doesn’t have much job experience but does have good references, a strong educational background, and a pleasant and eager attitude. And then these words come out: “very ambitious” and “eager to climb the ladder and take on more responsibility.” At this point, certain managers will mentally cross this candidate off the list, and understandably so: a young, ambitious job-seeker might not stick around for very long, and simply job-hop to the next big break or opportunity. Although this might be the case on some occasions, research from reveals that hiring managers may have more cause for concern when it comes to job candidates who lack ambition.

Analyzing data collected from 801 people who took the Turnover Probability Test, PsychTests’ researchers singled out two distinct groups: individuals who are very ambitious and those who are not. They then assessed the reasons that might compel each group to quit a job – 19 motives in total. Interestingly, the unambitious group had a higher likelihood of leaving for 11 of the 19 reasons for turnover.


> 23% of the Unambitious group indicated that they might quit if they didn’t enjoy the tasks they were working on, compared to 12% of Ambitious people.
> 31% might quit if they had to deal with ethical conflicts (e.g., making decisions that go against their morals/principles), compared to 26% of the Ambitious group.
> 17% might quit if they didn’t agree with certain company policies, such as dress code, conflicts of interest, or dating a colleague (compared to 7% of the Ambitious group).
> 32% might quit if they lacked work-life balance and had to work overtime or bring work home on a frequent basis (compared to 19% of the Ambitious group).
> 24% might quit for practical reasons (e.g., long commute), compared to 19% of the Ambitious group.
> 13% might quit if they had disagreements with their teammates, compared to 9% of the Ambitious group.
> 26% might quit if they had disagreements with their manager, compared to 17% of the Ambitious group.
> 25% might quit as a result of “office politics,” compared to 18% of the Ambitious group.
> 37% might quit if they had to deal with bullying or psychological harassment, compared to 27% of the Ambitious group.
> 33% might quit if a better job opportunity came along, compared to 26% of the Ambitious group.
> 12% would quit if the company was struggling financially or not doing well in general, compared to 10% of the Ambitious group.


> 32% of the Ambitious group said that they might quit if they felt they were being treated unfairly, and an almost equal amount of the Unambitious group agreed (31%).
> 20% might quit if they felt they were not needed anymore, compared to 14% of the Unambitious group.
> 21% might quit if their superior was a micromanager, and 20% of the Unambitious group would do the same.
> 20% might quit their job to start their own business, compared to 10% of the Unambitious group.
> 30% might quit if there was no room for growth or advancement, compared to 11% of the Unambitious group.
> 22% of the Ambitious group might quit if they felt they were underpaid or inadequately compensated, and the Unambitious group were not far behind with 21%.
> An equal amount of Ambitious and Unambitious people (27%) would quit if they experienced sexual harassment, or if they were bored and felt insufficiently challenged by their work (21%).

“In most cases, the decision to quit is not made lightly. The majority of people will take a lot of factors into consideration, such as the economic climate, the ease of finding another job, and the financial repercussions of being unemployed for at least the short-term,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “They will also attempt to resolve an issue by talking to HR, their manager, or getting a transfer to another department, for example, before making the decision to exit. So, for people who are reading these statistics and thinking, ‘Why would only 27% of ambitious group leave if they were being bullied or psychologically harassed?’, it’s because of all these factors. Most people recognize that they have other avenues, and that quitting isn’t always their only option.”

“Evidently, there are certain cases where quitting is understandable, if not necessary. For example, if the work you do results in a moral dilemma, then quitting makes sense for you, and 31% of the unambitious group would make the same choice. However, this reason indicates a lack of job fit, and it’s so important for people to choose a job that aligns with their values. These results also tell us that if you’re a manager and you give your ambitious people an opportunity to take on challenging projects or roles and give them room to grow and advance, they will stick with you. This depends, however, on whether you treat them fairly and have a strict policy against abusive behaviors in the workplace, which, frankly, should be commonplace in all businesses. The bottom line is, choosing not to hire someone because they are ambitious – and instead selecting a person who is more complacent because you think they are more likely to stay put – is a major misconception. And this type of thinking can cost you a really good employee.”

Want to assess your probability for turnover? Check out the Turnover Probability Test at

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery:

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook:

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see

Media Contact

Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D, PsychTests AIM Inc., 5147453189, [email protected]


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