Who retires gracefully, who adjusts to retirement easily and who doesn’t. Which personality traits play a part in successful retirement?
The five factor model of personality or the Big Five can be used to see how personality traits are linked to how people adjust to retirement. It has been done in the past for other life transitions.
The researchers not only used the Big Five but also the Satisfaction with Life Scale and questionnaires devised to measure reasons for retirement and the quality of experiences in retirement. These questionnaires were all part of an online survey on which 365 individuals responded, of whom 86 were close to retirement and 279 were already retired.
From this research extraversion was found to relate to life satisfaction while still at work but not during retirement. Extraversion seems to be less adaptive when retired. Conscientiousness and Agreeableness promote satisfaction after retirement not before. Neuroticism is the strongest related to life satisfaction both before and after retirement.
Individuals with high Neuroticism are prone to negatively appraising their life situation, and so the trait may be a cause of low satisfaction, while dispositional Neuroticism can be elevated by difficult life events and so higher levels may be an effect of a stressful retirement
These findings are from an observational study so cause and effect relations can not be found with this design, we’re in need of a longitudinal within subject design, meaning to evaluate people before and after retirement in order to find a cause effect relationship.
Why is this important?
People approaching retirement could be given a personality test that could provide information on how to cope with retirement and identify those at risk for a difficult retirement.
Robinson, O., Demetre, J., & Corney, R. (2010). Personality and retirement: Exploring the links between the Big Five personality traits, reasons for retirement and the experience of being retired Personality and Individual Differences DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.014