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The Relationship between Empathy Ability and Work Consciousness according to the DISC Behavioral Types of Some Dental Hygiene Students
Int J Clin Prev Dent 2023;19(4):77-85
Published online December 31, 2023;  https://doi.org/10.15236/ijcpd.2023.19.4.77
© 2023 International Journal of Clinical Preventive Dentistry.

Mi-Hae Yun1, Eun-Joo Na2

1Department of Dental Hygiene, Andong Science College, Andong, 2Department of Dental Hygiene, Daejeon Health Institute of Technology, Daejeon, Korea
Correspondence to: Eun-Joo Na
E-mail: hiju23@naver.com
https://orcid.org/0009-0004-5259-2826
Received December 1, 2023; Revised December 17, 2023; Accepted December 24, 2023.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract
Objective: This study analyzes the relationship between DISC behavior type, empathy, and career preference among dental hygiene students enrolled in the Department of Dental Hygiene, and analyzes factors that affect career preference.
Methods: A survey was conducted on a total of 245 students attending the Department of Hygiene.
Results: Empathy ability was found to be 3.54 for cognitive empathy and 3.42 for emotional empathy, and was similarly high in the stable and sociable types among the DISC behavior types. In terms of job preference, the D type and C type preferred honor, while the I type preferred aptitude and interest. The S type most strongly preferred stability and advancement.
Conclusion: In terms of correlations, cognitive empathy was significantly positively correlated with affective empathy, interest in aptitude and interest, and preference for stability and advancement, and affective empathy was significantly correlated with preference for honor and preference for stability and advancement. Hierarchical regression was performed to investigate the effects of each factor on job preference. Cognitive preference and DISC profiles affected job preference, but affective empathy did not affect job preference.
Keywords : dental hygiene students, DISC behavioral patterns, empathic ability, job preference, major satisfaction
Introduction

The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution implies that many aspects of human society will be replaced by technology. As a result of such changes, individuals are called upon to deeply contemplate their own identity and develop the ability to adapt to and cope with a rapidly evolving society [1,2]. The field of dentistry is not excluded from the impact of such changes. However, dental hygienists and students lack awareness of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and are not adequately prepared to accept the consequent changes [3]. Thus, it is important for dental hygiene students to cultivate the ability to prepare for the changing job environment brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Empathy is a crucial skill for dental hygienists who continue to perform tasks that involve interactions with patients in a society increasingly mechanized by technology. It entails understanding the stance and emotions of the other person and helps build trust between dental hygienists and their patients [1]. Dental hygienists are typically the first to notice and respond sensitively to changes in their patients, and through empathy, they come to understand their colleagues, with whom they spend substantial amounts of time in their workplaces. Empathy is an ability that is actively cultivated in young adulthood, highlighting the importance of empathy education and training in college [4]. Choosing a major in college is a critical decision that should be based on an understanding of one’s aptitude, interests, personality, and values to explore future career options [5]. Personality is defined as unique but consistent and stable patterns of behavior that manifest themselves as a person interacts with their surrounding environment. It plays a significant role in academic satisfaction, career preferences, and job performance. As personality continues to evolve throughout one’s lifetime, it is possible for dental hygienists to further advance their personalities to achieve enhanced work performance, reduced turnover, and improved job satisfaction [6]. Various personality and behavior assessment tools, such as Enneagram (Enneagram of Personality), MBTI (Myers- Briggs Type Indicator), LIFO (Life Orientations), and DISC (Personality behavior type), have been developed [7]. Among these tools, DISC is a behavioral assessment tool that focuses on external traits, that is, behaviors that naturally manifest themselves in an individual’s living and working environment, rather than their internal characteristics. In contrast to other instruments that require a professional diagnosis and interpretation, DISC offers a simpler and more straightforward diagnostic process, making it a popular choice for many organizations and companies [8-10].

DISC was developed based on the theory of Dr. William Moulton Marston, and it classifies individuals according to four behavior types: Dominance (D), characterized by traits such as challenge-seeking consciousness, leadership, quick problem-solving, and ability to produce concrete outcomes; Influence (I), characterized by a sociable and friendly personality in group settings and skills to motivate others; Steadiness (S), referring to people who listen to others, are patient, are considerate, and prefer stable jobs; and Conscientiousness (C), where individuals prefer familiar environments, use a rigorous thought process to identify risk factors, thereby accurately addressing their work [11,12]. Individuals can attain higher work efficiency if their job aligns with their tendencies and aptitudes, and these individuals demonstrate high job satisfaction and are able to carry on a happy life [13]. Therefore, choosing jobs based on a good understanding of one’s own personality and behavioral types, and striving to adapt one’s behavior style to suit one’s circumstances, would help boost job satisfaction and reduce turnover [14,15].

In this context, this study is intended to analyze the association among DISC behavior type, empathy, and job preference, and identify the predictors of job preference in dental hygiene students at colleges in the Seoul, Gyeonggi, Chungcheong, and Gyeongsang regions. The results will be used as foundational data for developing and implementing education programs aimed at adjusting behavior types and fostering empathy in order to increase satisfaction with one’s major, and ultimately job satisfaction in the future.

Materials and Methods

1. Study population

A total of 245 dental hygiene students at colleges in Seoul, Gyeonggi, Chungcheong, and Gyeongsang were convenience- sampled from September to October 2023. Students who provided informed consent were asked to complete the study questionnaire. The participants were informed that they had the freedom to withdraw from the study at any time without any disadvantages. The sample size was determined using the G*Power program (ver.3.1.9.7.). With a significance level of α=0.05, the effect size of 0.15, and power of 0.8, the minimum sample size was calculated to be 143 for the cross-tab analysis and 260 for one-way ANOVA. With reference to the effect size (f2) of 0.1696 in Kim et al. [15] for a hierarchical multiple regression at a significance (α) of 0.05, power of 95%, and four predictor variables, the minimum sample size was calculated to be 116. To take into account potential dropouts with missing responses and careless responses, a total of 300 questionnaires were distributed, and 276 were collected. After excluding questionnaires with missing responses and questionnaires that marked the same number throughout, we included 245 sincerely completed questionnaires in the study. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Andong Science College (IRB No. 70036-202307-002-06).

2. Study instruments

1) Participants’ general characteristics

General characteristics included age, school year, region of upbringing, high school, and choice of dental hygiene major. The reliability (Cronbach’s α) of the questionnaire was 0.846.

2) Empathy

The 30-item empathy scale restructured by Jeon [16] was used. It contains 14 items for cognitive empathy and 16 items for affective empathy. Positively worded items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale from 1 “strongly disagree” to 5 “strongly agree,” where a lower score indicates poorer empathy. Negatively worded items were rated on a reverse Likert scale, from 1 “strongly agree” to 5 “strongly disagree.”

The reliability (Cronbach’s α) of the instrument was 0.853, with 0.728 for cognitive empathy and 0.801 for affective empathy.

3) DISC profiles

DISC personality types were assessed using a questionnaire consisting of 28 adjectives, which was modified and created by Lee and Shim [17] based on the PPS diagnostic tool from the Korea Educational Consulting Institute.

The assessment was performed by presenting four adjectives for each of the 28 items and instructing the participants to choose one adjective to which they most related in the “most” box and one adjective to which they least related in the “least” box. The participants could not choose the same adjective for the two boxes, and the four adjectives corresponded to each of the four behavioral types.

4) Job preference

Job preference was assessed using the 21-item questionnaire developed by Kim et al. [5] consisting of items about preference for honor, preference for aptitude and interest, preference for stability and advancement, and preference for working environment when choosing an occupation. The reliability (Cronbach’s α) was 0.781 for the entire scale, 0.738 for preference for honor, 0.766 for preference for aptitude and interest, 0.751 for preference for stability and advancement, and 0.691 for preference for working environment.

3. Analysis method

The participants’ empathy, DISC profile, and job preference were presented with descriptive statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics version 27.0. Differences in empathy, DISC profile, and job preference according to general characteristics were analyzed with a t-test and one-way ANOVA, and correlations among the variables were analyzed with Pearson’s correlation analysis. Factors affecting job preference were analyzed using hierarchical regression.

Results

1. Frequency table

Third-year students made up the largest share (39.2%) of the participants, followed by second-year (35.9%), first-year (19.2%), and fourth-year students (5.7%), indicating that 75.1% of the participants were second- and third-year students.

Most of the participants grew up in a “city” (79.6%) and graduated from a liberal arts high school (82.9%). The majority of the participants stated that dental hygiene was their “first choice” of major (51.8%), while 25.7% and 22.4% stated that dental hygiene was their “second choice” or not a desired choice, respectively.

The most common DISC profile was I (Influence) (38.8%), followed by C (Conscientiousness) (32.7%) and S (Steadiness) (14.3%) (Table 1).

Table 1 . General characteristics

CharacteristicsDetails classificationN%
Academic yearFreshman4719.2
Sophomore8835.9
Junior9639.2
Senior145.7
Growth areaMetropolitan city2711.0
City19579.6
Country176.9
Town62.4
High schoolGeneral high schoool20382.9
Vocational high school4217.1
Degree of application for major departmentFirst choice12751.8
Second choice6325.7
Not the department you applied for5522.4
DISC behavioral patternD (dominance)3514.3
I (influences)9538.8
S (steadiness)3514.3
C (conscientiousness)8032.7
Total245100


2. Correlations among factors

The correlations among the variables were analyzed using Pearson correlation analysis. Cognitive empathy was significantly correlated with affective empathy and preference for interest, preference for stability and advancement, and preference for work environment (p<0.01).

Affective empathy was significantly correlated with a preference for honor (p<0.05) and a preference for stability and advancement (p<0.01).

There was no significant correlation between preference for honor and preference for aptitude and interest, but there was a significant correlation between preference for aptitude and interest and preference for stability and advancement (p<0.05). The remaining domains of job preference were significantly correlated (p<0.01) (Table 2).

Table 2 . Intermediate correlation

CharacteristicsM±SDEmpathic abilityJob preferenceDISC
behavioral patterns


Cognitive-empathic Emotional-empathicHonorVocation & interestStability & developmentWorking environment
Empathic abilityCognitive-empathic3.54±0.511------
Emotional-empathic3.42±0.49.618** (0.00)1-----
Job preferenceHonor3.02±0.66.12 (0.06).137* (0.03)1----
Vocation & interest3.43±0.66.204** (0.00).10 (0.13)−.10 (0.10)1---
Stability & development3.69±0.59.193** (0.00).176** (0.01).306** (0.00).134* (0.04)1--
Working environment3.51±0.52.218** (0.00).11 (0.08).257** (0.00).219** (0.00).395** (0.00)1-
DISC behavioral patterns-.01 (0.83)−.02 (0.70)`−.149* (0.02)−.12 (0.06)−.05 (0.40)−.192** (0.00)1

*The correlation is significant at the 0.051 level (bilateral).

**The correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (bilateral).



3. Correlation between general characteristics and DISC profile

Despite the absence of significant correlations between the school year and DISC profile, the most common DISC profile among first-year students was the C (Conscientiousness) type, and the I (Influence) type was most common among second-, third-, and fourth-year students, indicating differences across school years.

There was a significant correlation between the region of upbringing and DISC profile (p<0.01). The majority (51.9%) of the participants who grew up in a metropolitan city belonged to the I (Influence) type, compared to 38.5% of the participants who grew up in a “city.” On the other hand, the majority of the participants who grew up in a “gun” region belonged to the C (Conscientiousness) type (70.6%), while those who grew up in a “eup or myeon” region belonged to the I (Influence) and S (Steadiness) types equally (50% each).

There was a significant correlation between the choice of dental hygiene major and the DISC profile (p<0.05). Among those who stated that dental hygiene was their first choice of major, 39.4% belonged to the I (Influence) type, while 44.4% of those who chose dental hygiene as their second choice of major belonged to the C (Conscientiousness) type. Among those who stated that dental hygiene was not their desired choice (41.8%) belonged to the I (Influence) type (Table 3).

Table 3 . Correlation between general characteristics and DISC behavior types

TotalDISC behavioral patterns

D (dominance)I (influences)S (steadiness)C (conscientiousness)
Total245 (100.0)35 (14.3%)95 (38.8%)35 (14.3%)80 (32.7%)
Academic yearFreshman47 (100.0)10 (21.3%)14 (29.8%)6 (12.8%)17 (36.2%)
Sophomore88 (100.0)17 (19.3%)34 (38.6%)10 (11.4%)27 (30.7%)
Junior96 (100.0)8 (8.3%)38 (39.6%)19 (19.8%)31 (32.3%)
Senior14 (100.0)0 (0.0%)9 (64.3%)0 (0.0%)5 (35.7%)
χ2 (p)15.860 (0.070)
Growth areaMetropolitan city27 (100.0)0 (0.0%)14 (51.9%)5 (18.5%)8 (29.6%)
City195 (100.0)34 (17.4%)75 (38.5%)26 (13.3%)60 (30.8%)
Country17 (100.0)1 (5.9%)3 (17.6%)1 (5.9%)12 (70.6%)
Town6 (100.0)0 (0.0%)3 (50.0%)3 (50.0%)0 (0.0%)
χ2 (p)26.650 (0.002)
High schoolGeneral high schoool203 (100.0)25 (12.3%)79 (38.9%)29 (14.3%)70 (34.5%)
Vocational high school42 (100.0)10 (23.8%)16 (38.1%)6 (14.3%)10 (23.8%)
χ2 (p)4.439 (0.218)
Degree of application for major departmentFirst choice127 (100.0)22 (17.3%)50 (39.4%)22 (17.3%)33 (26.0%)
Second choice63 (100.0)3 (4.8%)22 (34.9%)10 (15.9%)28 (44.4%)
Not department applied for55 (100.0)10 (18.2%)23 (41.8%)3 (5.5%)19 (34.5%)
χ2 (p)14.195 (0.028)


4. Relationship between general characteristics and empathy

None of the general characteristics were significantly correlated with cognitive empathy and affective empathy (Table 4).

Table 4 . The relationship between general characteristics and empathy

VariablesClassificationNEmpathic ability

Cognitive-empathic abilityEmotional-empathic ability


M±SDt/F (p)M±SDt/F (p)
Academic yearFreshman47 (19.2)3.45±0.471.567 (0.198)3.40±0.440.201 (0.895)
Sophomore88 (35.9)3.57±0.503.46±0.49
Junior96 (39.2)3.58±0.523.41±0.51
Growth areaSenior14 (5.7)3.34±0.493.42±0.43
Metropolitan city27 (11.0)3.58±0.521.562 (0.199)3.51±0.430.437 (0.727)
City195 (79.6)3.53±0.503.41±0.50
Country17 (6.9)3.47±0.493.45±0.47
Town6 (2.4)3.95±0.603.49±0.47
High schoolGeneral high schoool203 (82.9)3.53±0.49−0.758 (0.449)3.43±0.480.237 (0.813)
Vocational high school42 (17.1)3.60±0.573.41±0.54
Degree of application for major departmentFirst choice127 (51.8)3.56±0.500.653 (0.521)3.48±0.482.516 (0.083)
Second choice63 (25.7)3.56±0.423.41±0.42
Not department applied for55 (22.4)3.47±0.603.31±0.55
Total245 (100.0)3.54±0.513.42±0.49


5. Relationship between general characteristics and job preference

School year and region of upbringing were not significantly associated with job preference. In terms of high-school type, those who graduated from a vocational high school scored significantly higher on preference for honor (3.28) (p<0.01), preference for aptitude and interest (3.63), and preference for stability and advancement (3.88) (p<0.05).

Differences in job preference according to the choice of dental hygiene major were analyzed. The second-choice major group scored 3.54 on preference for stability and advancement, which was lower than the scores for the first-choice major group and not the desired major group (p<0.05). In terms of preference for the work environment, the second-choice group scored 3.34, which was significantly lower than the first-choice group and not the desired major group (p<0.01) (Table 5).

Table 5 . The relationship between general characteristics and occupational preferences

Job preference

HonorVocation & interestStability & developmentWorking environment




M±SDt/F (p)M±SDt/F (p)M±SDt/F (p)M±SDt/F (p)
Academic yearFreshman3.09±0.530.854 (0.466)3.40±0.600.097 (0.962)3.60±0.590.589
(0.623)
3.52±0.470.141 (0.935)
Sophomore3.03±0.64-3.45±0.64-3.68±0.54-3.50±0.56-
Junior2.96±0.74-3.45±0.71-3.74±0.63-3.53±0.53-
Senior3.21±0.69-3.37±0.55-3.63±0.61-3.45±0.50-
Growth areaMetropolitan city2.91±0.770.730 (0.535)3.41±0.910.590 (0.622)3.77±0.540.223
(0.880)
3.58±0.570.519 (0.670)
City3.04±0.66-3.42±0.61-3.67±0.61-3.50±0.52-
Country3.13±0.62-3.49±0.76-3.71±0.47-3.49±0.42-
Town2.77±0.51-3.77±0.59-3.70±0.33-3.72±0.74-
High schoolGeneral high schoool2.97±0.63−2.797**(0.006)3.39±0.64−2.177* (0.030)3.65±0.59−2.315*
(0.021)
3.49±0.50−1.564 (0.124)
Vocational high school3.28±0.78-3.63±0.68-3.88±0.573.65±0.63
Degree of application for major departmentFirst choice3.08±0.670.846 (0.430)3.48±0.611.144 (0.320)3.77±0.563.310*
(0.038)
3.57±0.53a5.006** (0.007)
Second choice2.98±0.53-3.33±0.58-3.54±0.56b<a,c3.34±0.45bb<a,c
Not department applied for2.95±0.79-3.46±0.81-3.67±0.66-3.59±0.56c-
Total3.02±0.663.43±0.663.69±0.593.51±0.52

*p<0.05, **p<0.01.

aFist choice, bsecond choice, cnot department.



6. Relationship between empathy and job preference according to DISC profile

The S (Steadiness) type had the highest cognitive empathy score (3.61), but it was not significant (p>0.05). The S (Steadiness) type also had the highest affective empathy score (3.53), and it was significant (p=0.033).

For job preference, the I (Influence) group had the highest score for preference for aptitude and interest (3.53), while the S (Steadiness) group had the highest score for preference for stability and advancement (3.86). However, the results were not significant.

The D (Dominance) group had the highest score for preference for honor (3.19) (p=0.007) and preference for work environment (3.68) (p=0.025), and the results were significant (Table 6).

Table 6 . DISC relationship between empathy and occupational preference according to behavior types

NEmpathic abilityJob preference


Cognitive-empathic abilityEmotional-empathic abilityHonorVocation & interestStability & developmentWorking environment
D (dominance)353.39±0.621.9233.28±0.582.9493.19±0.804.1013.47±0.711.6143.60±0.692.5343.68±0.483.161
I (influences)953.60±0.510.1263.50±0.560.0333.12±0.710.0073.53±0.700.1873.75±0.580.0583.56±0.570.025
S (steadiness)353.61±0.53-3.53±0.34a<b,c2.73±0.55c<a,b3.35±0.52-3.86±0.52-3.52±0.45d<a
C (conscientiousness)803.50±0.42-3.35±0.38-2.96±0.54-3.33±0.63-3.58±0.56-3.38±0.50-
Total2453.54±0.513.42±0.493.02±0.663.43±0.663.69±0.593.51±0.52

aDominance (D), binfluences (I), csteadiness (S), dconscientiousness (C).



7. The effects of each factor on job preference were analyzed using hierarchical regression

The regression table had a tolerance greater than 0.1 (0.617-1.000) and a VIF of below 10 (1.000-1.621), confirming the absence of multicollinearity. The Durbin–Watson statistic was close to 2, at 1.783, confirming the suitability of the table. Table 1-3 were significant, at p<0.01. In Table 1, job preference increased by 0.218 with every one-point increase in cognitive empathy, and cognitive empathy influenced job preference at β=0.290, with the model explaining 8.4% of the variance. In Table 2, job preference increased by 0.198 with every one-point increase in cognitive empathy, which was lower than in Table 1. Cognitive empathy influenced job preference at β=0.263. Job preference increased by 0.034 with every one-point increase in affective empathy, which did not influence job preference, at β=0.044. The model accounted for 8.5% of the variance. In model 3, cognitive empathy influenced job preference, at β=0.273, and affective empathy did not influence job preference, at β=0.032. Job preference decreased by 0.074 with every increase in the DISC profile; the DISC profile influenced job preference at β=−0.209, and model 3 explained 12.9% of the variance. The p-value of the F statistic of Table 3 was <0.01, indicating that the explained variance of the regression significantly increased with the addition of an independent variable (Table 7).

Table 7 . Factors influencing job preference

Bβtp-valueBβtp-valueBβtp-value
(a constan)2.647-16.0030.0002.602-14.1380.0002.801-14.8300.000
Cognitive-empathic ability0.2180.2904.7170.0000.1980.2633.3590.0010.2050.2733.5610.000
Emotional-empathic ability----0.0340.0440.5570.5780.0250.0320.4220.674
DISC behavioral patterns--------−0.074−0.209−3.4750.001
f/p22.252.000a11.250.000b11.868.000c
R20.0840.0850.129

aPredictor: (constant), cognitive empathy.

bPredictors: (constant), cognitive empathy, emotional empathy.

cPredictors: (constant), cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, behavioral type.


Discussion

This study was conducted to examine the relationships among DISC behavioral styles, empathy, and job preferences among dental hygiene students. We sought to obtain foundational data for developing such educational programs, based on previous findings suggesting that behavioral styles and empathy, an important attribute among healthcare professionals, can be developed through learning in young adulthood and the understanding that education tailored to students’ individual tendencies facilitates efficient job performance later in their career.

In our study, the most common DISC profile was the I type, followed by the C type, D type, and S type. In Lee [18], the most common DISC profile was the D type, while the S type was the most prevalent in Park and Ju [9], in contrast to our results. However, previous studies conducted on dental hygiene students and nursing students [15,19-22] reported that the I type was the most prevalent among these student populations, similar to our findings.

The majority of our participants were second- and third- year students, and the growing prevalence of the I type among upper-year students seems to suggest that the students experienced changes in their behavioral styles as they encountered people from diverse backgrounds as part of the dental hygiene (a healthcare service industry) curriculum and departmental activities.

The I type is extroverted and engages in human-centered thinking, has a positive view of the world, and enjoys taking part in social activities with liberal thinking. The high job satisfaction [15,23] demonstrated by dental hygienists of the I type, who display profound interest in the changes and objects around them and engage in free thinking, suggests that the current curricula are appropriate.

With respect to empathy, the mean cognitive empathy score was 3.54, and the mean affective empathy score was 3.42. These two dimensions of empathy were comparably high in the cases of both the S type and I type. While both cognitive and affective empathy can be explained in the process of understanding others’ behaviors, the two have different charac-teristics. Cognitive empathy can be seen as the ability to read the emotions of others, while affective empathy is the ability to directly project or share the emotions of others. Given that cognitive empathy increases from first year to second year and from second year to third year, learning seemingly improves the ability to read the emotions of others. However, affective empathy remained similar across school years, indicating that it is difficult to enhance it through learning.

Regarding job preference, the D type had the highest preference for honor, consistent with the findings of Kim et al. [5], Kang and Jang [14], and Kim [24]. This appears to reflect the willingness of the D type to face challenges, demonstrate leadership, and attain outcomes in new and diverse work environ-ments.

The S type scored highest on the preference for stability and advancement, consistent with the findings of Kim et al. [5], Lee and Shim [17], and Kim [24].

The I type—the most prevalent type among our participants— showed the strongest preference for aptitude and interest. This contradicted Kim et al. [15] and Lee and Shim [17], who found the highest preference for stability and advancement opportunities, but was consistent with Kim [24]. The characteristics of the S type, who are deeply interested in changes in the environment and others around them and also display free-thinking attributes, seem to indicate that the S type prefers jobs that are fit for their aptitude and interests.

Our study results show that the preferences for future jobs differ across the behavior styles (D type, I type, and S type). In the future, customized education programs should be developed to enhance satisfaction with job choices.

Correlation analyses showed that cognitive empathy is significantly positively related to affective empathy, preference for aptitude, preference for stability and advancement, and preference for work environment in jobs. On the other hand, affective empathy was significantly correlated with a preference for honor and a preference for stability and advancement. These results suggest that job preference increased with increasing empathy, with strong preferences specifically for stability and advancement.

Hierarchical regression was performed to analyze the effects of each factor on job preference. Cognitive empathy and DISC profiles affected job preference, but affective empathy did not. The regression model explained only 12.9% of the variance. Cognitive empathy is a learnable attribute, where students are able to develop stronger empathy appropriate for their desired jobs as they undergo the curriculum, which also affects job preference. The relatively low percentage of explained variables despite the continued significance of results across all stages of hierarchical regression and increasing explanatory power with more variables added may be attributed to the failure to adequately influence factors that affect job preference.

This study has a few limitations. The sample was limited to participants from one region, and thus the results cannot be generalized. Furthermore, the distribution was not equal, so the results may be skewed toward a certain school year. In the future, studies should investigate the differences in empathy and DISC profiles that may affect job preference or track the changes in participants’ empathy and DISC profile within a curriculum. Such findings will provide useful data for developing tailored guidance programs for dental hygiene students.

Conclusion

This study enrolled 245 dental hygiene students in certain regions in North Gyeongsang Province and investigated their self-report questionnaire responses and the impact of empathy and DISC profiles on job preference. The following conclusions were drawn.

1. The most prevalent DISC profile was the I type, followed by the C type, D type, and S type. The mean cognitive empathy score was 3.54, and the mean affective empathy score was 3.42. The scores were comparably high in the cases of the S type and I type.

2. In terms of job preference, the D type and C type preferred honor, while the I type preferred aptitude and interest. The S type most strongly preferred stability and advancement.

3. In terms of correlations, cognitive empathy was significantly positively correlated with affective empathy, interest in aptitude and interest, and preference for stability and advancement, and affective empathy was significantly correlated with preference for honor and preference for stability and advancement.

4. Hierarchical regression was performed to investigate the effects of each factor on job preference. Cognitive preference and DISC profiles affected job preference, but affective empathy did not affect job preference.

Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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