First Advisor

Donald Truxillo

Date of Publication

Winter 3-9-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Older people -- Employment, Age and employment, Quality of work life, Work environment, Job satisfaction



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 142 pages)


It is estimated that by 2020, 25% of the US labor force will be aged 55 or older. Along with this demographic shift, Americans and employees in other industrialized nations are now working longer than before, either out of preference or financial necessity. Therefore, it is essential that we understand how to support employees so that they can continue working in a healthy, happy, and productive manner as they age. The construct of work ability (the extent to which people perceive they can meet the mental and physical demands of their jobs) has the potential to guide research and practice on how best to support employees throughout the lifespan. However, though studied extensively in the occupational health literature, work ability has only recently gained attention in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Occupational Health Psychology literatures. This study helps to further integrate work ability into our field and theoretically ground the construct using the Job Demands-Resources model (Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001). Specifically, this study examined psychosocial characteristics of the work environment (age diversity climate, team cohesion, organizational justice, and leader-member exchange) that were expected to buffer against the negative effects of increased age and poor health on work ability. The interaction between team cohesion and poor health had a significant effect on work ability. While the other hypothesized interaction relationships were unsupported, ancillary analyses showed that both team cohesion and age diversity climate do relate positively to work ability, even after controlling for age and health. These findings highlight the importance of a positive social work environment in supporting employees' work ability throughout the lifespan. Suggestions for future research include examining additional psychosocial predictors and behavioral outcomes of work ability, as well as conducting intervention studies aimed at increasing work ability by improving social aspects of the work environment.


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