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Getting Older and Getting Happier with Work: An Information-Processing Explanation

Listed author(s):
  • Joseph Luchman


  • Seth Kaplan
  • Reeshad Dalal

Job attitudes and subjective well-being (SWB) have important relationships with one another. Moreover, job attitudes and, to an extent, SWB are related to chronological age. Owing to a “graying” workforce in industrialized countries, uncovering how age influences job attitudes is increasingly important. The present work explores the effects of cognitive-aging research on the item response process during attitude measurement. Research finds that older individuals attend selectively to positive affective experiences and weigh affective experiences more heavily during judgment than younger individuals. Based on cognitive-aging research, we propose an item-response process and hypothesize that chronological age results in a specific form of measurement non-equivalence. Our hypothesis is tested on 2 different samples of university employees, across 3 different job attitudes rooted in emotional experiences. Results indicate age-related measurement non-equivalence across all 3 attitudes such that older employees report more positive job attitudes than younger employees even when controlling for the latent attitude construct. Our findings suggest caution in interpreting of age-satisfaction correlations, focusing greater attention on understanding item response processes of older versus younger individuals and increased attention to job-related emotional experience for older employees. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 108 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 535-552

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Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:108:y:2012:i:3:p:535-552
DOI: 10.1007/s11205-011-9892-8
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  1. Hui-Chuan Hsu, 2010. "Trajectory of Life Satisfaction and its Relationship with Subjective Economic Status and Successful Aging," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 99(3), pages 455-468, December.
  2. Chaonan Chen, 2001. "Aging and Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 54(1), pages 57-79, April.
  3. Gerben Westerhof & Freya Dittmann-Kohli & Toine Thissen, 2001. "Beyond Life Satisfaction: Lay Conceptions of Well-Being among Middle-Aged and Elderly Adults," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 56(2), pages 179-203, November.
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