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Enhancing planning behaviour during retirement using a time perspective based intervention

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posted on 2022-12-14, 03:28 authored by Anna MooneyAnna Mooney

Time perspective (TP) is a psychological construct that reflects the way people view time. Conceptually, TP describes a tendency to attend to aspects of the positive or negative past, the fatalistic or hedonistic present, or the future. In recent decades, TP has been increasingly explored to better understand its complex role across a range of different behaviours. While TP has been well specified as a strong predictor of a variety of real-life outcomes, the majority of research has utilised younger adult samples and relatively little is known about how this construct operates in older adults. With increasing life expectancy and pressure placed on individuals to plan for their retirement and maintain their lifestyle in their later years, the way TP influences retirees' planning and well-being in retirement is not well understood. To address this gap, the current thesis presents three studies. Study 1 validates definitions and measurement of a specific TP profile; Study 2 examines the role of TP in research participation and engagement; and, Study 3 implements findings from Study 1 and 2 and extends TP research by comparing training interventions with TP themes to improve retirement planning behaviour. 

The first study validates a measure of 'balanced' TP, a concept operationalised by how much TP subscale scores deviate from a proposed 'ideal' profile (Zimbardo & Boyd, 2008). To ensure measurement of 'balance' using a valid instrument, Study 1 tested a deviation from balanced TP (DBTP) calculator, previously applied to younger cohorts, using a sample of 243 retirees. In accord with previous studies, results of regression analyses indicated that DBTP was a significant predictor of retirement planning, depression, anxiety, stress, and both positive and negative mood. These findings provided confidence for using the DBTP calculator to assess balanced TP in subsequent studies consisting of older samples. 

Assessment of the effectiveness of intervention programs to deliver the intended outcomes largely depends on good sample retention. Accordingly, Study 2 investigated the relationship between TP and longer-term commitment and participation in an 18-month longitudinal study. Utilising a sample of 568 retirees, results of comparison analyses found completers were less past-positive, less present-fatalistic, more present-hedonistic and deviated less from the balanced TP profile ( more balance). However, nonsignificant differences were found in past-negative and future TP scores between completers and noncompleters.  

The final and main study (Study 3) investigated the effectiveness of two alternate TP-based interventions to promote planning behaviour. Utilising a sample of 109 American retirees, the study design included a wait-list control group with four waves of data collection over a 6-month period. The program design was informed by three prior trials. Participants of both training groups navigated through online modules, which included lifelike presenters, interactive activities and self-reflection exercises. Results of linear mixed models showed increased health goal striving at posttraining and 3-months for the balanced group. Both training groups showed increases in the number and specificity of goals at posttraining and 3-months and the majority of plans were centred on maintaining rather than accumulating resources. 

Overall, whilst some hypotheses were not supported, the results of the studies in this thesis extend TP theory in a number of ways. First, findings support the validity of a measure of deviation from the balanced TP profile to predict well-being indicators in older adults, extending the age range of existing samples in balanced TP research. Second, associations were found between individual TP subscales and research participation, providing some insight into which TP domains tend to participate and remain engaged for the duration of a longer-term study. Finally, the findings show some promise for the use of a TP-based intervention that aims to help retirees to plan more and take greater control to either accumulate or manage essential resources. This research was the first to develop a planning intervention comparing two approaches in TP theory and to test its longer-term effectiveness. Practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for developing future interventions are discussed.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Literature Review -- 3. Study 1: Deviation from Balanced Time Perspective -- 4. Study 2: Participation and Engagement -- 5. Study 3: Retirement Planning Intervention -- 6. General Discussion -- References -- Appendices

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Joanne Earl


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