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Strength and Vulnerability: Indirect Effects of Age on Occupational Wellbeing

Strength and Vulnerability: Indirect Effects of Age on Occupational Wellbeing through Emotion Regulation and Physiological Disease

Speaker: Professor Hannes Zacher, CEPAR Associate Investigator, Institute of Psychology, Wilhelm Wundt, Leipzig University, Germany

Abstract: The lifespan model of strength and vulnerability integration (SAVI) posits that development is accompanied by age-related improvements in emotion regulation and age-related reductions in physiological flexibility. Moreover, the model suggests that the experience of emotional stressors leads to greater declines in wellbeing among older as compared to younger adults. We test these core propositions of the SAVI model in the work context by examining experienced incivility as a moderator of the indirect effects of employee age on two indicators of occupational wellbeing (i.e., emotional engagement and exhaustion) through emotion regulation and physiological disease. Longitudinal survey data were collected from n = 784 employees across three time points, spanning five months. Consistent with hypotheses, results showed that age had indirect effects on wellbeing outcomes through emotion regulation and physiological disease. In addition, the negative indirect effect of age on emotional exhaustion through emotion regulation was weaker when experienced incivility was high (vs. low). These findings of this study provide partial support for propositions of the SAVI model in the work context and yield several implications for theory development and practice regarding age and work.

Dr. Hannes Zacher is a Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at the Institute of Psychology – Wilhelm Wundt, Leipzig University, Germany. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Giessen in 2009 and subsequently worked in academic positions in Australia and the Netherlands. In his research program, he investigates aging at work and career development, occupational health and well-being, as well as proactive and adaptive employee behavior. Across these research agendas, he employs multiple methodologies, including longitudinal surveys, experience sampling studies, and experiments. His research is well supported through competitive grants and industry funding, including current projects on the role of work for the development of civilization diseases (Volkswagen Foundation) and on idle time at work (German Research Foundation). He has published over 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals, such as American Psychologist, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Psychology and Aging. He also serves on a number of national and international journal editorial boards.