It’s no secret that photographers suffer through the constant expectation of free or cheap work. And now, a new study suggests that the reason for it is because we love our jobs, in what scientists are calling “passion exploitation.”
Professor Aaron Kay and Ph.D student Jay Kim at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business are the brains behind the recently published paper, called “Understanding Contemporary Forms of Exploitation: Attributions of Passion Serve to Legitimize the Poor Treatment of Workers.” The research has been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The conclusion drawn was that general public feel more comfortable exploiting workers of a trade if those workers are passionate about what they do. The term “passion exploitation” was drawn after the researchers conducted 8 different studies involving over 2,400 total participants found that those who read that an artist was “strongly passionate about their job” said it was more legitimate for that artist to be exploited by a boss. Meanwhile, participants who read that the artist wasn’t as passionate were less accepting of the exploitation.
Another study found that careers linked to passion — that being, jobs in the art and photography fields — are often considered more acceptable to exploit. It’s apparently less legitimate to exploit workers in non-passion jobs — things like a stop clerk, which is often done as a temporary measure. Plumbing is often a job considered not to be a job done for “labor of love,” the same way photography is.
Fuqua Insights explains:
The researchers found this tendency to exploit passion arises from two beliefs: that work is its own reward, and that the employee would have volunteered anyway. This is an example of compensatory justifications.