Control at Work: An Integrative, Lifespan-Informed Review


Control is one of the most ubiquitous and fundamental concepts to the study of psychology, including to theory, research, and practice related to aging and work. Indeed, control constructs exist in many different forms (e.g., self-efficacy, job autonomy, locus of control), and they have been extensively linked to performance and well-being with age. This paper provides a review of age- and work-relevant theory and research pertaining to a variety of “actual,” perceived, and enacted control constructs. The paper seeks to fulfill three goals. First, we review predominant control constructs with respect to theory and research, considering their distinguishing and overlapping features, relationships with age- and work-relevant concerns, and areas of consensus and ambiguity. Second, we synthesize and organize our review findings into a work-focused “lifespan control framework” to guide theoretical revision, hypothesis formation, and construct choice/comparisons, and we provide recommendations to researchers for using this framework. Third and finally, we generate a focused research agenda for impactful studies of age, control, and work. The concept of control has contributed to our knowledge of and practice with work-relevant processes, and this review aims to aid in integration, organization, and innovation to move the study of age, control, and work forward.

Work, Aging & Retirement