Aging and Work : How Do SOC Strategies Contribute to Job Performance Across Adulthood?

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-940
Journal / PublicationPsychology and Aging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


The authors examined the impacts of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) strategies-elective selection, loss-based selection, optimization, and compensation-on job performance across adulthood. A cross-sectional survey (Study 1, N = 355) and a 5-day experience sampling study (Study 2, N = 87) were conducted to assess Chinese insurance sales workers' global and momentary employment of SOC strategies at work and compare the effectiveness of these strategies in predicting their job performance. Study 1 revealed that the use of compensation predicted higher performance maintenance among older workers, whereas the use of elective selection contributed positively to sales productivity for both age groups, with stronger association for younger workers. Study 2 demonstrated that the positive impact of SOC strategies on global and momentary measures of job performance differed across tasks with various difficulty levels. When the task was perceived as highly difficult, older workers' greater use of elective selection predicted higher self-rated task performance; however, the positive association was weaker among younger workers. Older workers' greater use of the 4 SOC strategies was positively associated with sales increases when the task was not difficult or moderately difficult, yet the relationship was negative when the task was highly difficult. A reverse pattern was observed among younger workers. This article contributes to the understanding of working adults' psychological adaptation to the process of aging and reveals the moderating role of task difficulty on the association between SOC strategies and performance outcomes. © 2009 American Psychological Association.

Research Area(s)

  • Chinese working adults, experience sampling study, job performance, SOC strategies, task difficulty