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Personality traits linked to life satisfaction after work

The global population is aging, and policy makers are interested in the life satisfaction of older adults after leaving the workforce. A new study has found that the personality traits of older adults are connected to the paths they take, and their overall well-being, once they leave their jobs. 

To understand this connection, researchers analyzed data from more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 75 who participated in the British Household Panel Survey. Participants were surveyed against the “Big Five” personality traits as a standard evaluation. They were also surveyed on life satisfaction after leaving their jobs. 

The results of the study showed connections between the routes people took to leave their jobs and their satisfaction with life, income, and leisure which varied according to personality traits.

For example, respondents who identified as conscientiousness had an increased satisfaction with leisure time after mandatory retirement, and increased life satisfaction amongst those who became unemployed. This suggests that conscientious individuals are proactive in finding new fulfilling lifestyles after work.

The extraverted respondents who retired early had a lower satisfaction with life, income, and leisure. However, the extroverts who stopped working due to ill health or caregiving demands had a higher satisfaction with leisure time. This could suggest that extraverts miss social relationships at work, but might also be motivated to find sociable, rewarding hobbies.

The three remaining traits were agreeableness, openness, and neuroticism. Amongst these, results did not find relationships or patterns with life satisfaction.

Regardless, the findings are interesting and could help policy makers guide targeted interventions to support the well-being of aging adults. Researchers consider this especially relevant during the mass exodus of workers throughout the pandemic.

“Our study uncovered associations between the routes people took to exit their jobs and their subsequent satisfaction with life, income, and leisure,” said the study authors. “These associations varied according to people’s personality traits. Conscientious individuals were more proactive in finding new fulfilling life patterns.”

The research is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

By Katherine Bucko, Staff Writer

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