Psychological aspects of adaptation to retirement

VEGA 2/0048/18

Duration of the project:
2017 - 2021

Principal investigator:
prof. Peter Halama, PhD.

List of scientific co-workers:
Prof. PhDr. Viera Bačová, DrSc.
PhDr. Lucia Kočišová, PhD.
Mgr. Lucia Záhorcová, PhD.
doc. Ing. Mgr. Róbert Hanák, PhD.
Mgr. Lukáš Pitel, PhD.

Most significant results:
At the beginning of the project, the problem of retirement transition was theoretically conceptualized in the context of current sociodemographic trends (population aging). In the past, it generally meant a one-time and unilateral departure from paid work to a permanent state of no work and retirement, but current changes in demographic trends are also changing the nature of this process. Retirement is now more diverse and complex, and the duration of employment is increasing after retirement age, sometimes in the form of a so-called late career. The levels of retirement (retirement as an institution, life stage) overlap, and what this means for psychological research on retirement was analyzed. An overview of the most widely accepted models currently used to explain retirement transition and adjustment was provided, including role theory, continuity theory, life-cycle perspective theory, and a dynamic resource-based model of retirement adjustment. Factors affecting the transition from work to retirement were also assessed. Factors in several domains (individual variables; pre-retirement work-related variables; family-related variables; retirement-related variables; and post-retirement activities) have been described in several papers and analyzed in terms of their positive or negative effects on retirement adjustment. Qualitative research focusing on the subjective experience of the retirement adjustment process has shown three typical cases of the transition from employment to retirement, namely, positive adjustment (a person who expects and enjoys retirement, e.g., tired from work, experiences relief and satisfaction after retirement, a person who perceives positive new opportunities and experiences positive changes, using adjustment to engage in new activities, social relationships, or protective attitudes, and earlier planning for retirement), negative adjustment (a person who leaves the job that filled them and in which they had good relationships, adapts more problematically, has no job or social company, experiences feelings of loneliness and a lack of social contacts, but also suffers from a lack of sources) and impaired adjustment (a person who is looking forward to retirement, but due to various circumstances at work or in the family, the transition has not been smooth, in addition, there is a serious negative event, such as the death of a loved one, an illness that causes negative feelings, which complicates the adjustment and causes negative changes). As part of the review of personality and cognitive predictors of optimal adjustment, we examined how recent retirees conceptualize this phase of life. The four retirement lifestyle concepts (new beginnings, continuation, imposed disruption, and transition to old age) were confirmed and three types of retirees were identified: 1. new beginnings and continuation, 2. imposed disruption without hope, and 3. accepted interruption and termination. These three types differed significantly in the level of satisfaction, subjective well-being, and meaningfulness of life, with the first type having the highest level and the second type the lowest. An experimental intervention was prepared based on providing retirement planning information to people of pre-retirement age. The intervention was conceptually based on the method of Kaya and Schlossberag (2010) and was revised and adapted to the retirement problem. However, the results of the review showed no impact of such an intervention on retirement preparedness variables, namely retirement planning, retirement conceptualization, or retirement coverage, suggesting that information may not be sufficient to increase retirement engagement.
Selected publications:
1. Bačová, V. (2019). Súčasné výzvy pre psychologické skúmanie dôchodku. Ceskoslovenska Psychologie, 63(5), 526-542.
2. Bačová, V., Halama, P. (2020). Retirement lifestyle conceptualization and well-being in recent retirees. Educational Gerontology, 46(11), 688 - 695.
3. Bačová, V., & Halama, P. (Eds.) Psychologické súvislosti adaptácie na dôchodok. Bratislava, Ústav experimentálnej psychológie CSPV SAV, 2021.
4. Záhorcová, L., Halama, P., Škrobáková, Ž., Bintliff, A. V., & Navarová, S. (2021). Qualitative analysis of transition from work to retirement among Slovak retirees. Current Psychology, 40(4), 1531-1545.
5. Halama, P., Záhorcová, L., & Škrobáková, Ž. (2021). Meaning making in retirement transition: a qualitative inquiry into Slovak retirees. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 16(1), 1985414.