Sunday, May 8, 2011
Exploring Personality and Retirement: The Big Five
The exploration of the relationship between personality and employment success is a growing interest among research psychologists. For instance Thoresen et al[i] have written an extensive paper on personality and job performance growth. They carefully explore each of the Big Five personality traits and their effects on work satisfaction and achievement. The traits associated with the Big Five are: Openness (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious), Conscientiousness (efficient, organized vs. easygoing/careless), Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary}, Agreeableness, (friendly, compassionate vs. cold/unkind and Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident). Each factor was carefully evaluated.
After studying this material I decided to see if I could find research that investigates the relationship between personality and the retirement process. Finally I found an article by Lockenhoff et al[ii] that study’s personality traits and their connection to the retirement transition. They begin with the statement “Theoretically, five-factor model traits are thought to influence…retirement, via their association with emotional appraisals, motivational priorities, and coping strategies.”
They found retirement related changes were (E) extroversion and (A) agreeableness. Retirees described themselves as less fast paced and vigorous (decreased E) and less competitive and argumentative(Increased A) than when they were working. Based on these findings it is postulated “The absence of work-related role strain may have reduced the need for aggressive and competitive pursuit of one’s goals and led to more harmonious social interaction.” This, it would seem, could be connected with the process of wisdom.
In the last paragraph the authors state “In conclusion, our findings indicate that the five factor personality traits show small by significant changes in response to the retirement transition and that personality is related to retirement satisfaction as well as post retirement activity levels. This suggests that future research in the field of retirement would benefit from closer consideration of personality traits.” I will continue to look into this area as I develop my retirement workshops.
Below are some examples of each of the Big Five Factors:
· Vivid imagination
· Spend time reflecting on things
· Am interested in abstractions
· I am always prepared
· I follow a schedule
· I pay attention to details
· I don’t mind being the centre of attention
· I start conversations
· I feel comfortable around people
· I feel other’s feelings
· I take time out for others
· I make people feel at ease
· I often feel blue
· I worry about things
· I get upset easily
These examples do not cover the range and number of questions. I put them on this blog entry so you can take a brief look at yourself and consider how your responses may connect with your retirement.
[i] Thoresen, C.J., Bradley, J.C., Bliese, P.D. & Thoresen, J.D. (2004). The big five personality traits and individual job performance growth trajectories in maintenance and transition job stages. Journal of Applied Psychology,89(5), 335-353.
[ii] Lockenhoff, C.E., Terracciano, A. & Costa, P.T. Jr. (2009) Five-factor model personality traits and the retirement transition: Longitudinal and cross-sectional associations, 24(3), 722-728.