Action Regulation Across the Adult Lifespan (ARAL): A Metatheory of Work and Aging

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The goals of this article are to integrate action regulation theory (ART) with the lifespan developmental perspective and to outline tenets of a new metatheory of work and aging. The action regulation across the adult lifespan (ARAL) theory explains how workers influence, and are influenced by, their environment across different time spans. First, the basic concepts of ART are described, including the sequential and hierarchical structure of actions, complete tasks and actions, foci of action regulation, and the action-regulating mental model. Second, principles of the lifespan developmental perspective are delineated, including development as a lifelong and multidirectional process, the joint occurrence of gains and losses, intraindividual plasticity, historical embeddedness, and contextualism. Third, propositions of ARAL theory are derived by analyzing workers' action regulation from a lifespan developmental perspective (i.e., effects of aging on action regulation), and by analyzing aging and development in the work context from an ART perspective (i.e., effects of action regulation on age-related changes in cognition and personality). Fourth, we develop further propositions to integrate ART with lifespan theories of motivation and socioemotional experience. Finally, we discuss implications for future research and practice based on ARAL theory.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Aging and Retirement
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)286-306
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 01.07.2016