New Social Roles and Well-Being in Later Life

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Galit NIMROD, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
New social roles are central to the Innovation Theory of successful aging (Nimrod & Kleiber, 2007), which differentiates between two types of innovation: Self-Preservation Innovation (SPI), that somehow continues earlier roles, and Self-Reinvention Innovation (SRI), that has nothing in common with previous roles. The theory suggests that both SPI and SRI may contribute to well-being in later life. Based on a telephone survey of 545 retirees (age≥60), the present study aimed at examining the two types of innovation and their association with well-being.

Analysis indicated that SPI activities were significantly more common than SRI activities. Moreover, innovators who reported adding at least one SPI activity had significantly higher life satisfaction than the rest of the sample. No such difference was found regarding innovators who added SRI activities. To determine whether differences in life satisfaction resulted from SPI activities or from differences in background characteristics and activity repertoire, a three-step linear regression was conducted. Results showed that it was not the type of innovation, but rather its result – namely, a greater activity repertoire among innovators – that predicted post-retirement life satisfaction.

The prediction of life satisfaction according to total activity repertoire is in line with the main tenet of Innovation Theory, as Nimrod and Kleiber maintained that the impact of innovation on well-being is not direct. Accordingly, it appears that the innovators who added SPI activities reported more satisfaction with life than others because they had a greater activity repertoire that accorded them more sources of challenge, companionship and meaning. One may still inquire why this was not the case for innovators who added SRI activities, even though they too enjoyed a greater activity repertoire than the rest of the sample. A possible explanation posits that only SPI promotes well-being in later life, underscoring the importance of internal continuity.