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Why extroverts have a harder time enjoying retirement

Extroverts miss the friendships formed with colleagues, suggest the findings, putting well-being at risk during their twilight years.

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Lonely Asian Senior man was sick and sitting on wheelchair. Retirement age lifestyle and stay at home alone.
(Photo by Perfect Angle Images via Shutterstock)

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Outgoing people find it harder to cope after retirement, according to new research.

Extroverts miss the friendships formed with colleagues, suggest the findings, putting well-being at risk during their twilight years.

On the other hand, conscientious types enjoy packing in work. The trait acts as a "psychological buffer" - helping identify fresh ways to fill the days.

It was linked to increased leisure satisfaction for those who underwent mandatory retirement.

The characteristic also boosted overall life happiness among individuals made unemployed.

Using data from the UK, lead author Dr Dusanee Kesavayuth, of Kasetsart University in Bangkok, said it is important to identify those who may struggle when they stop work.

She said: "We found individuals scoring high on agreeableness, extraversion or openness who leave the workforce due to early or mandatory retirement might be particularly at risk.

"Policies and interventions programs should therefore focus on helping those individuals."

The aim would be to raise awareness about the possible adverse effects - encouraging them to seek counselling.

The study is based on data from more than 2,000 participants aged 50 to 75 in the British Household Panel Survey.

It identified links between personality, routes to leaving jobs and well-being afterwards.

The findings could help guide targeted interventions and policies to boost the well-being of ageing adults.

Such efforts could be especially relevant during the current mass exodus of workers from the labour force in the context of the pandemic.

For example, extraversion was linked to lower satisfaction with life, income and leisure among those who quit early.

But it improved leisure time for people who stopped due to ill health or caregiving demands.

They may also be motivated to find sociable and rewarding hobbies, explained the Thai team.

Dr Kesavayuth said: "Our study uncovered associations between the routes people took to exit their jobs and their subsequent satisfaction with life, income, and leisure.

"These associations varied according to people’s personality traits. Conscientious individuals were more proactive in finding new fulfilling life patterns."

Portrait happy senior couple hugging outdoors in summer park together and smiling at camera
(Photo by Air Images via Shutterstock)

As ageing populations grow, communities and policymakers are increasingly interested in the well-being of those departing the labour market.

Experts have begun to explore how different exit paths - mandatory versus voluntary retirement, for instance - are connected with subsequent happiness.

But few studies have addressed how they may vary depending on people's personality traits.

Dr. Kesavayuth and colleagues looked at the "Big Five" - a standard evaluation of personality.

They compared them with subsequent life satisfaction after participants left their jobs, whether voluntarily or not, without plans to begin working again.

Associations were also found for the traits of agreeableness, openness and neuroticism.

They do not confirm any causal relationships between the various factors - and proposed explanations can only be speculative at this stage.

Dr. Kesavayuth said: "Neuroticism augments income satisfaction for those who become unemployed.

"It may reflect people high in neuroticism had a lower 'baseline level' of income satisfaction relative to typical individuals so they were not affected as much.

"Finally, agreeableness mitigates life and leisure satisfaction as is also the case with openness in terms of income satisfaction."

From 1980 to 2017 the number of over 60s across the world went from 382 million to 962 million.

Projections show the proportion of older people is likely to double again in the next three decades.

Dr. Kesavayuth added: "Given that population ageing is a prevalent phenomenon, the study of the wellbeing effects of leaving work will likely continue to be an area of increased interest for academic research."

The findings were published in the journal PLOS One.

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