What makes intergenerational relations successful at work? #DARTseminar

On Wednesday 3rd of October, Dr Ulrike Fasbender, currently a research fellow at Birbeck, University of London, gave a very interesting talk on the key factors involved in making intergenerational relations successful at work.


The number of older workers is increasing dramatically due to demographic changes, and organizations need to attract and utilize the human resources offered by aging workforces.

In this study, we examine how intergroup contact can facilitate older workers’ coworker-support behavior. Specifically, we combine socio-emotional selectivity theory with a social mindfulness lens to predict that high quality exposure to younger coworkers motivates older workers to engage in perspective taking and empathic concern, which, in turn, facilitates their provision of instrumental and emotional support toward younger coworkers. In addition, we test the applicability of socio-emotional selectivity theory in later adulthood by examining how older workers’ age might shape the effect of their contact quality with younger workers on their perspective taking and empathic concern. We tested our hypotheses using time-lagged data from a sample of 756 older workers. Results showed that both perspective taking and empathic concern mediated the positive effect of contact quality on support behaviors toward younger coworkers. In addition, older age was associated with a stronger effect of contact quality on empathic concern. Overall, we extend the existing literature by focusing on the role of intergroup contact in influencing older workers’ behavior toward younger coworkers, thereby moving beyond previous research that exclusively focused on younger workers’ attitudes toward older workers.

Speaker’s bio

Dr. Ulrike Fasbender
Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, Germany
Visiting Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London

Since 2017, I am working as Assistant Professor for the Work and Organizational Psychology team at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessenin Germany. Also, I am Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, and Visiting Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London in the United Kingdom. My research interest is about late career development, transition to retirement, diversity management, and intergenerational relationships at work. I have published my research in various journals, such as Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Journal of Vocational Behavior, or Journal of Managerial Psychology.

I have recently received funding from the British Academy to conduct research on intergenerational contact and cooperation at work while visiting Birkbeck, University of London (Award Reference: VF1\100674). Specifically, I am interested in the ways that older and younger colleagues operate at work to understand: What Makes Intergenerational Relations Successful at Work?

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