טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentDikla Segel Karpas
SubjectAdjustment to Retirement: Attachment Avoidance and Anxiety
as Boundary Conditions for the Effects of Changes
in Income and Activities on
Well-being
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisors Professor Emeritus Zohar Dov
Mr. Bamberger Peter
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

Most studies of adjustment to retirement have been focused on the relation between the context in which the retirement takes place and the adjustment process, while largely overlooking the role of individual differences (Wang & Shultz, 2010). Drawing from the person-situation interaction paradigm (Mischel, 1996), we suggest that a better understanding of the adjustment to retirement process may be achieved by accounting for both contextual changes and individual differences, and most importantly, the interaction between the two.

The retirement transition usually results in income drop and in increase in non-work activities. These changes may entail important consequences for well-being, and we argue that the effect of these changes on well-being is contingent upon attachment orientation (Bowlby, 1969/1982; 1973, 1980). Attachment orientation, operationalized as levels of attachment avoidance and anxiety, has imminent effects for the appraisals of situations, evaluation of coping abilities, perception of support, and the quality of social relations (Mikulincer, 2007). Thus, attachment orientation may have an important role conditioning the effects of experienced changes on well-being - amplifying or mitigating the negative effects of income drop, and shaping one's ability to benefit from the potential increase in social engagement. 

We followed a sample of unionized workers from just prior to retirement to up to 7 years post-retirement, and accounted for the effects of the interactions between the experienced changes in income and engagement and attachment anxiety and avoidance on three indicators of well-being: depression, psychosomatic complaints and ill-health.

Results indicate that attachment anxiety and avoidance do in fact moderate the effects of income drop and increased engagement on well-being. An income drop is related to higher levels of depression and psychosomatic complaints and lower levels of health only when attachment avoidance is high. Increased engagement is inversely associated with depression and ill-health when attachment anxiety and avoidance are low, but positively associated with psychosomatic complaints when anxiety is high. 

This research offers a new perspective for the study of retirement adjustment by incorporating a psychological framework. Changes may result in different effects on well-being depending on one's attachment orientation: attachment may be an important vulnerability or resilience factor in the retirement transition. High levels of attachment avoidance and anxiety may amplify the effects of negative changes on well-being, and hinder one's ability to benefit from the potentially positive change. From a practical perspective, attachment orientation may be an important diagnostic tool evaluating populations at risk for maladjustment.