Strength and Vulnerability: Indirect Effects of Age on Changes in Occupational Well-Being through Emotion Regulation and Physiological Disease.


The strength and vulnerability integration (SAVI) model posits that development across the adult lifespan is accompanied by improvements in emotion regulation and declines in physiological flexibility. Due to these age-related changes, emotional well-being is expected to be higher among older (vs. younger) adults when they experience no or only minor stressors. In contrast, more intense stressors should lead to lower well-being among older adults. We develop and test a conceptual model based on the SAVI model in the work context that focuses on experienced incivility as a moderator of the indirect effects of employee age on changes in two indicators of occupational well-being (i.e., job satisfaction, emotional exhaustion) through emotion regulation and physiological disease. Experienced incivility is a workplace stressor that may weaken the beneficial effects of emotion regulation and intensify the detrimental effects of physiological disease. Data were collected from 781 employees across three time points, spanning four months. Results showed that age had indirect effects on (a) increases in job satisfaction through emotion regulation, (b) decreases in emotional exhaustion through emotion regulation, © decreases in job satisfaction through physiological disease, and (d) increases in emotional exhaustion through physiological disease. Out of four hypothesized interaction effects, only the indirect effect of age on decreases in emotional exhaustion through emotion regulation was, as expected, weaker and non-significant when experienced incivility was high (vs. low). These findings provide partial support for our model and imply that future theory development on age and occupational well-being should consider both age-related strengths and vulnerabilities.

Psychology & Aging