Evaluation of Determinants of Retirement Satisfaction among Workers and Retired People

By Fouquereau, Evelyne; Fernandez, Anne et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Evaluation of Determinants of Retirement Satisfaction among Workers and Retired People


Fouquereau, Evelyne, Fernandez, Anne, Mullet, Etienne, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


The objective was to study ordinary people's judgments, through the use of external indices, of the expected degree of retirement satisfaction and to characterize the cognitive process involved in making these judgments. The method used was an application of Integration Information Theory (IIT). The total sample was formed of two subsamples of 50 workers and 53 recently retired people. The main results showed that the overall degree of retirement satisfaction and the factors taken into account in the judgment process are surprisingly similar in both groups. There was also no fundamental difference in integration patterns between workers and retirees. All participants used an additive rule.

The perception of retirement as a major transition in the life of an adult is today largely admitted by the scientific community. Indeed, specialists in this area (Floyd et al. 1992) all agree that although ending your career can in some cases generate new sources of interest and new goals, it can in other cases be accompanied by a feeling of insecurity, anxiety and sometimes even by psychosomatic disorders. Confronting such challenges, a large number of experts (Fouquereau, Fernandez, & Mullet, 1999; Hanson & Wapner, 1994) attempted to identify the main factors which could potentially influence satisfaction with retirement and adaptation of the individual. As in other types of life or career transitions, these factors can be classified in four categories (Schlossberg, 1995). The first category deals with situation variables, the second with personal characteristics, the third with social resources available before and after retirement and the fourth with coping responses.

To the knowledge of the authors, however, although a large body of research has focused on the objective determinants of well-being and retirement satisfaction, no study has been devoted to how ordinary people assess satisfaction during this life stage. Analyzing the way nonexperts - who are already affected (retired people) or who will be affected in the long-term (workers) - evaluate the importance and the effect of the different factors to anticipate a successful retirement is interesting in two ways.

First, ordinary people are guided in their everyday life by their personal conceptions of life satisfaction and not by scientific evidence. For example, individuals who associate dissatisfaction during retirement with a lack of financial resources, and therefore think that saving money might increase their well-being, will implement the appropriate strategies for reaching that goal, even when it is established that the direct link between changes in income and satisfaction with retirement is debatable (McGoldrick, 1994). Secondly, counselors and mentalhealth professionals cannot use only their knowledge of the objective determinants of retirement satisfaction to design intervention and prevention programs for retired people or they may have to face a number of unexpected problems.

The goal of such an analysis is threefold: (1) to study the assessment by two categories (workers vs. retired people), through the use of external factors, of the expected degree of retirement satisfaction. Publications on this subject suggest that representation or evaluation of the different dimensions of retirement vary depending on whether,the individual has direct or indirect experience of this life transition (Settersten, 1998). (2) to analyze the impact of each external factor on overall judgments of retirement satisfaction in the two groups of participants (workers vs. retirees). (3) to characterize the process by which information is combined in making satisfaction judgments. Thus, Anderson's (1996) functional theory of cognition was chosen as the framework.

The basic aim of Information Integration Theory (UT) is to define the psychocognitive laws of information processing and integration of multiple stimuli which accurately characterize the relationships between stimulus values presented to subjects (for example, in the present study, health, financial situation, or freedom) and subjects' judgments (in the present study, the expected degree of retirement satisfaction). …

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