A new study identified new associations between the personality traits of older people, the pathways they took to leave their jobs, and their well-being after leaving the labor market. Dusanee Kesavayuth of Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

As the global population of older adults grows, communities and policy makers are increasingly interested in the well-being of those leaving the workforce. Researchers have begun to explore how different exit pathways—mandatory versus voluntary retirement, for example—may be associated with later life satisfaction. But few studies have looked at how these associations may vary depending on people’s personality traits.

To help clarify, Kesavayuth and colleagues analyzed data from more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 75 who took part in the UK Household Panel Survey. The dataset included an assessment of participants’ “Big Five” personality traits — a standard personality rating — and life satisfaction after participants quit their jobs, voluntarily or involuntarily, without having the intention to start working again.

Statistical analysis of the data revealed associations between the pathways people took to leave their jobs and their subsequent satisfaction with life, income and leisure. However, these associations did vary according to their personality traits.

For example, the conscientiousness trait was linked to increased satisfaction with free time for older people who took mandatory retirement and increased satisfaction with life for people who found themselves in retirement. unemployment. The authors suggest that conscientiousness may act as a “psychological buffer,” with conscientious individuals being more proactive in seeking new fulfilling lifestyles.

Among those who retired early, extraversion was linked to lower satisfaction with life, income and leisure. However, for people who stopped working due to health or care issues, extraversion was linked to greater satisfaction with free time. The authors speculate that extroverts might lack social relationships at work, but might also be motivated to find sociable and rewarding hobbies.

Associations were also found for the traits of agreeableness, openness, and neuroticism. These associations do not confirm any causal relationship between the various factors, and the proposed explanations can only be speculative at this stage. However, the findings could help guide targeted interventions and policies to improve the well-being of aging adults. Such efforts could be particularly relevant during the current mass exodus of workers from the labor force amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The authors add: “Our study found associations between the pathways people took to leave their jobs and their subsequent satisfaction with life, income and leisure. These associations varied according to people’s personality traits. Conscientious individuals were more proactive in seeking new fulfilling lifestyles.

– This press release was provided by PLOS