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New Paper forthcoming in the Journal of Organizational Behavior

All Set in Stone? How Essentialist Beliefs About Aging Affect Older Workers’ Motivation to Continue Working Beyond Retirement Age

News vom 30.05.2022

Prof. Weiss has a new paper forthcoming in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

In an interdisciplinary research project with lifespan researcher Dr. David Weiss (University of Halle-Wittenberg) and work and organizational psychologist Prof. Hannes Zacher (Leipzig University), Prof. Weiss investigated how beliefs about aging or aging mindsets affect older workers' motivation to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age. This is an important issue as population aging requires organizations to motivate older workers to continue working for as long as possible, even after their official retirement age. Previous research has suggested that finances, health, and work conditions are important factors in retirement decisions. However, the importance of age-related beliefs in this context has not been scrutinized so far. Research from lifespan psychology suggests that people differ in how they view the aging process with significant implications for their cognitive functioning and outlook on life. Thus, in this project, the authors investigated how essentialist beliefs about aging (i.e., believing that the aging process is genetically determined and set in stone) affect older workers' motivation to continue working beyond retirement. Conducting a longitudinal study (N = 617) as well as an experiment (N = 358) with workers aged 40-65 years, the authors found that workers who view aging as a more malleable, flexible process (nonessentialist view), where motivated to work longer than those who believe that aging is a more fixed, genetically determined process (essentialist view). While the longitudinal survey study confirmed that essentialist beliefs about aging are relatively stable over time, the experiment showed that these beliefs can, nevertheless, be affected through a relatively simple intervention. These findings entail important theoretical implications for scholarship on work motivation and retirement across the life span and provide helpful practical implications for organizations in the context of an aging workforce.

The Journal of Organizational Behavior is one the most prestigious journals in the fields of OB/HRM (AJG-List 2021; Rank 4).

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