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Coping with Job Loss Between 50 and 65: Applying a Positive Ageing Framework

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posted on 2021-11-09, 00:59 authored by Brown, Joanne Margaret

The aim of the research was to explore predictors of positive ageing in a sample of 50 to 65 year old New Zealand displaced workers. The main focus of the research was to ascertain the mechanisms used by individuals to age positively when faced with situations characterized by limited control. Of the 174 respondents, 103 were male, 7l female. Of this sample, 8l individuals (47 males, 34 females) also took part in an interview evaluating cognitive aspects of wisdom. The survey contained a mixture of standardized measures (ABS and CES-D and a Life Satisfaction Scale as measures of wellbeing; OPS-JL and the Coping Humour Scale for measurement of coping) in addition to a number of closed and open-ended questions. Areas evaluated in the research were divided into three parts: opportunities (non-work and work based activities, roles, social resources, humour, wisdom and generativity), coping (using the newly developed 'Optimization in Primary and Secondary Control Job Loss Scale' (OPS-JL)) and constraints (job-related strain and other life transitions), and it was predicted that bidirectional links would be found between these three areas. Evidence for lack of control over re-employment in this age group and gender differences in coping with job loss (as a function of differences in central identity, coping, work history and socialization) were also predicted. Results found evidence for systematic differences between the sexes, in particular - males appeared to have more complex coping hierarchies. Substantial evidence was found for lack of situational control over re-employment and bi-directional links between opportunities, coping and constraints were demonstrated, indicating a holistic approach to evaluating positive ageing is warranted. Among outcomes unique to the thesis were a correlation between wisdom and the impact of life transitions, the moderating role of wisdom between coping and wellbeing, and the necessity to distinguish flexible goal adjustment into two forms: horizontal goal adjustments (HGA) (i.e. different jobs but similar rewards) and downward goal adjustments (DGA) (i.e. different jobs with lower rewards). DGA's were generally associated with lower levels of wellbeing for males, with outcomes contingent on factors such as whether HGA's were used first, levels of job related strain and current work status. It was concluded that older workers use many resources to aid positive ageing, but society must work to remove age-related blocks if this is to be achieved at an optimal level.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Liu, James; Jose, Paul; Ng, Sik-Hung; Guo, Jiansheng