THE INFLUENCE OF PSYCHO-SOCIAL VARIABLES ON PERCEPTION OF AGEING AMONG TEACHERS

 

ABSTRACT
Ageing comes with some indicators including decline in functions of the organs which take its
toll virtually on every aspect of wellbeing of the ageing person particularly if this important
and inevitable phase of life is not prepared for. Right perception of the concept of ageing is
no doubt, the very first and perhaps, most important step towards healthy ageing. Positive
perception of ageing by teachers will improve the standard of most ageing teachers and also
put them in the right frame of mind as they age. The present study examined the Influence of
Psycho-social Variables on Perception of Ageing among Teachers in Anambra and AkwaIbom states. Activity, Functionalist and Psycho-social theory of personality guided the study.
The sample comprised four hundred and two teachers (402) in Anambra state and five
hundred and three (503) teachers in Akwa-Ibom state selected through multi-stage sampling
technique. Five research instruments namely Psycho-social Variables on Perception of
Ageing Questionnaire (PSVPAQ); Brief Ageing Perception Questionnaire (B-APQ); Selfesteem Scale (SES); Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SRAS) and Emotional Adjustment Bank (EAB)
were used to collect data. Seven hypotheses were tested. Descriptive statistics, Analysis of
Variance (ANOVA), Independent t-test, Multiple Regression and Pearson Product Moment
Correlation were used for data analyses. The study confirmed that there was significant
difference due to gender and state of origin in the perception of ageing. It was also shown
that there was significant difference due to state of origin in ageing stereotypes. There was
significant composite influence of societal roles, ageing stereotypes and socio-economic
status on perception of ageing. Perception of ageing had significant influence on emotional
adjustment. Perception of ageing significantly influenced the self-esteem of teachers. Positive
perception of ageing had significant impact on the health status of teachers. Finally, the
study showed that there was significant difference due to gender and state of origin in ageing
anxiety. It was recommended among others that there is need for welfare as well as
awareness packages for teachers to have healthy perception of ageing and adequately
prepare for such. Teachers’ gratuity and pension should be paid as soon as they disengage
from service to enable them move into other areas of interest. Seminars should be organized
for teachers periodically on issues of ageing to prepare their mind as they advance in
chronological years.
Key Words: Psycho-social Variables, Ageing, Perception, Personality.
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.0 Background to the Study
Ageing and the ageing process are aspects of human experiences which begin the moment a
person is born. Each day that passes makes a person one day older. The older a person
becomes the nearer the person moves to that stage of life in which everything in the person’s
makeup and functions decline. Ageing is an important phase of life as it signals our gradual
final exit from the planet earth. Ageing from this perspective is seen as ongoing, starting at
conception and ending with death. It occupies the total life span, not merely the final stage of
life. Kart and Kinney (2005) confirmed that without the knowledge and understanding of the
entire life span, it may be difficult to understand the events of anyone’s life phase. In this
sense, ageing is studied to learn not only about the final phase of life, but also about youth
and middle years as these stages determine to a large extent how people age and their
perception of ageing.
According to Olajide and Ayantunji (2016) most people are frightened and not comfortable to
hear that they are ageing or growing old. This is simply because it tends to suggest
advancement in age, decline in the function of the organs of the body, and loss of flexibility,
decline in hearing, vision and lessen of muscular strength, flexibility of the skin and blood
vessels, appearance of wrinkles on the skin, etc. Osunde and Obiunu (2005) asserted that all
the negative indicators which show decline in the functions of the body organs due to ageing
make many adults to feel uncomfortable to be associated with ageing. This feeling affects
many people psychologically and socially and this is experienced through fear and anxiety
over ageing and death, emotionally traumatized due to physical and psychological changes
associated with ageing such as low self-esteem, reduced morbidity and self-worth,
aggression, depression, among other challenges. The level at which a person is affected by
these challenges may depend on the person’s disposition, preparedness and perception of
ageing.
According to Chrism (2016) perception is a subjective, active and creative process in which
we interpret what we sense by assigning meaning to sensory information through which we
understand ourselves and others. Every person perceives the world and approaches life
challenges and events differently. Chrism (2016) posits that the differences in perception are
influenced by environmental variables which can be physical, psychological and social. Such
variables as socio-economic status, family background and position in the community,
educational background, culture and societal beliefs and their interpretations, health status,
emotional status, position in the society, occupation, among others influence how we
perceive life events. Denga in Osuji and Nweze (2014) confirmed that two people could see a
thing differently but each sees a reality that is unique to him or her and that is the reality that
moderates his or her behaviour.
Ajala (2006) recognized that though all human societies recognize the roles of the elderly in
social relations but the perception of ageing, apart from being subjected to the wave of
culture change, is not the same thing in all human cultures. Traditionally, in Nigeria, the
extended family system has cared for the Nigerian elderly. Okumagba (2011) found that the
family still accounts for a large proportion of the support. Thus, most aged persons expect
support from their relatives, friends but most especially from their children. As a result of
this, the need for elderly age security from children was one of the motivations for large
family size in Nigeria. However, because of the declining economy, unemployment,
underemployment, inflation among others, many children are no longer in a position to
provide care and support for their aged parents and relatives while the family support
networks are on decline. In the same token, urbanization and westernization have also broken
down the traditional sense of family responsibility.
However, as a result of modernization, (influence by foreign culture) there was a change in
family structure in Nigeria which led to gradual disintegration of the concept of extended
family system. The traditional function of the family such as care and social support of the
older family members is gradually collapsing. Many old people are not responsible for their
ageing, some face health challenges that have made them total burden to their family
members, some have been thrown out of their homes and tagged witches or wizards.
According to Okoroafor (2015), in Calabar, Cross River state, thirteen elderly persons were
picked up from the street after being thrown out by their respective families, allegedly
claiming that they were witches. Along with this is the economic situation of most children
which makes it difficult for them to cater for their parents. And so the role of the old peoples’
home in the wave of gradual cultural shift and disintegration is very key. Old peoples’ home
is a multi-residence housing facilities intended for senior citizens. Even though old peoples’
home is un-African, it is a shameful state of affair that there has arisen a need for old age
homes in modern times. So in the wave of parental neglect and abandonment, the importance
of old peoples’ home cannot be over emphasized. Living in this home will give them a little
bit of care, sense of belonging, happiness, self-worth and help them to develop positive
perception of ageing.
The body changes that signal ageing may be devastating and traumatic and this creates fear
and anxiety over ageing and death, thereby making anxiety a psychological variable that
influence perception of ageing. According to Wolitzky-Taylor, Castriotta, Lenze, Stanley and
Craske (2010) anxiety disorders are among the most common clinical problems reported
among ageing persons, and their detrimental effects in late life are comparable to those of
depression. Indications of ageing anxiety include worrying about declining health, physical
function, social connectedness, changing physical appearance including wrinkles, receding
hair lines, grey hair, declining cognitive ability and depleting financial resources (Cummings,
Kropf, & DeWeaver 2000). Many teachers at mid-ages are already approaching retirement
age and therefore may be facing fear and anxiety over ageing.
Socioeconomic status (SES) is the social standing or class of an individual or group. It is key
in determining the quality of life of older people and it has been found to affect the
psychological health of ageing persons (American Psychological Association, 2017).
Teachers in Nigeria are not well paid which has placed them either at the middle or low
socioeconomic status. Many of them find it very difficult to save out of their salaries and
make meaningful investment that will sustain them when they retire. At mid-age, when
coming close to the reality of disengaging from paid job, many face emotional trauma which
affect not only their personal life but also their work as their level of output reduce to the
detriment of the students under their care. Ageing at this situation may become a thing of
worry and pain, thereby creating negative perception of ageing.
Self-esteem is a generalized evaluation of the self and it can strongly influence thoughts,
modes and behaviour. Low self-esteem may hold one back from succeeding at work because
one does not believe in him/herself to be capable of success. By contrast, having a healthy
self-esteem can help a person achieve success because such a person navigates life with
positive, assertive attitude and believe he/she can accomplish stated goals. Patrick and
Wemba (2014) posits that although it is crystal clear that the amount and quality of training
an individual receives is a logical place to start for determining personnel quality. It is equally
true that the teachers’ feeling, behaviour, attached value and the environment determine the
amount of effort put in for the attainment of institutional objectives (Touama, 2014).
Teaching is one of the most demanding profession and teachers who are the key players
deserve every attention for continuous and improved output. Khani, Riaz and Saif (2015)
posits that teachers with high self-esteem can teach the students in effective manner because
it creates confidence in their ability, attitudes, commitments and values. When a teacher self
esteem is affected by low or poor standard of living as evident in our society, it reduces the
person’s self-worth and efficiency especially as (s)he grows old.
Over the years the Nigerian teacher has been struggling to meet up with basic necessities of
life due to poor remuneration such that the noble profession no longer even attract first class
graduates from our universities. Many teachers have this attitude that they are poorly paid
and so they find it difficult to save or make some investments that will sustain them when
they retire from paid job. This has made ageing a thing of worry to the extent that some
falsify their age to enable them stay longer in the service, because of fear of disengaging and
not having means of financial sustenance. Many who retired without proper financial
management ended up on a low socio-economic status and this is not good for ageing
persons’ physical and psychological health. According to American Psychological
Association (2017) those at the lower levels of socioeconomic status are often most likely to
be diagnosed with psychological disorder.
Teaching is perhaps the most important profession in the society. The well-being of today’s
teachers affects the well-being of society tomorrow. Unless the well-being of individual
teacher is improved, standard of education and that of the educational experience of young
people will suffer with far-reaching financial, economic and social consequences for the
nation. Ageing which signals retirement from full-time paid employment is a defining
moment that marks the beginning of a life transition for many teachers. The strength of selfperception of weakness sometimes associated with ageing is particularly important for
teachers where the professional experience acquired as a result of their age (in the teaching
profession) can be jeopardized or turned to redundancy or unwholesome liability as a result
of unhealthy perception of ageing (Joye & Wilson, 2015).
The teacher who leads the students to competence by teaching both the formal and hidden
curriculum is assumed to benefit the system of education tremendously as (s)he stays longer
in the system, and does not have to be badly affected psychologically, mentally, socially and
health-wise by their self-perception or the perception of anyone on ageing. Understanding the
perception of ageing by teachers therefore, will not only guarantee a better conceptualization
of this phenomenon, its intricacies, management and treatment; this knowledge can also make
older teachers learn and be positively disposed to ageing for improved work output.
Furthermore, ageing is a highly individualized and complex process, yet it continues to be
stereotyped due to cultural and societal imposed standards. According to Dionogi (2015)
stereotypes are unchallenged myths or overstated beliefs associated with a category which are
wide spread, entrenched in verbal, written and visual contexts within society and in
contemporary culture they are primarily negative, depicting later life as a time of ill-health,
loneliness, dependency and poor physical and mental health. Stereotypes of ageing include
assumptions and generalizations about how people at or over a certain age should behave,
and what they are likely to experience, without regard for individual differences or unique
circumstances. Examples are: old people have poor health with diminishing mental ability,
unattractiveness, sexless, unhappy, have negative personality traits, lonely, behave like
children, forgetful and boring, These beliefs are gradually internalized and consequently they
influence individual perceptions of their own ageing.
Since stereotypes are culture-specific in affecting perception of ageing, it can be argued that
perception of ageing cannot also, be unconnected with the place of origin of individuals. This
is because where individuals reside or come from may have huge impacts on their total way
of life and expectations. To get the right perceptions of people on ageing therefore ultimately
requires putting into consideration such factors as individuals’ origin or place of residence
(Chow & Bae, 2011). Different cultures have different attitudes and practices around ageing
and death, and these cultural perspectives can have a huge impact on our experiences and
perception of ageing. Just as people’s place of birth or state of origin may determine their
perception of ageing due to cultural beliefs, societal values and socialization.
Discrimination also exist between men and women in matters concerning education, health,
employment and general societal roles making gender and state of origin a plausible related
variables that may influence ageing views. According to World Health Organization (2017),
gender can be understood as the complex and differing pattern of roles, responsibilities,
norms, values, freedoms and limitations that defines what is thought of as “masculine” and
“feminine” throughout the life course and which all play a role as determinants of ageing.
Gender is a social construct which classifies biological sex of men and women. It is an
acquired identity that is learned, changes over time, and varies widely within and across
cultures.
Every state is made up of groups and sub-groups of human settlements with peculiar and
diverse culture and role categorization. In many societies men are seen as being strong,
occupy position of power and authority, active, have autonomy, achievers and endure while
women are seen as being passive, weak, age fast, nurturing and adaptive. These
characteristics are more favourable to men than women, they form the basis of socially
assigned roles, determine how people see themselves and this may go a long way to influence
how they age. Thus, from research, gender seems to be a function of ageing (Schafer &
Shippee, 2010; International Longevity Centre, 2014). There are many research work done on
negative and positive perception of ageing, but there are limited work on psycho-social
variables that influence perception of ageing. It is against this background that this study was
carried out on the influence of psycho-social variables on perception of ageing among
teachers in Anambra and Akwa-Ibom states.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
The inevitability of ageing and the fear of dying have haunted human being and it has been a
human dream to retard ageing and defy death. Ageing by its nature may breed anxiety which
involves fear and worries about the future of the individual as a result of near or cessation in
active working life, fear of death and losing loved ones. Ageing may come with either
happiness over accomplishments or pain and sorrow over unfulfilled dreams, negligence and
failures which may lead to aggression, depression, anxiety and in extreme case suicide.
Others include dysfunctional family matters as well as psychological or behaviour disorders
such as depression, hypertension, identity crisis, alcoholism, loneliness, fast ageing & illhealth occasioned at times by loss of good accommodation among others (Inaja cited in Inaja
& Chima 2013).
The failure of many teachers to come to terms with the reality of ageing as they advance
towards retirement has brought untold hardships to many of them when they retire. Many
teachers have low standard of living before and after retirement, this has brought untold
hardship and suffering as a result of their inability to pay life sustaining bills. The present
economic downturn in the country is becoming increasingly difficult for average Nigerian
worker to make ends meet because of the inadequate wages and high inflation. Ageing
teachers are worse as their entitlement are not usually paid immediately after retirement.
Consequently ageing which may not have been planned for adequately in many cases is
accompanied by psycho-social and financial crisis.
A teacher who has put in a good number of years in the service is expected to have some
level of financial comfort towards the end of the working years, but this may not be the case
with many teachers. The society equally looks down on teachers when it comes to financial
matters. This financial incapacitation and way the society underrates teachers have affected
many of them negatively. This has created low self-esteem, reduced self-worth, depression,
aggression, lack of dedication to duty, low social network and other challenges. These
problems have caused reduced output, especially when teachers are advancing in
chronological years. This may be one of the reasons for the poor performances of many
students in public secondary schools today. Ageing teachers need to use their wealth of
experiences to improve learning and academic performances of students, but this can only
happen if there is job satisfaction and positive perception of ageing as they look forward to
retirement.
Ageing, equally, may come with concomitant health problems such as physical and mental
decline due to the deterioration of biological make-ups of human beings. The above
mentioned life events may affect ageing teachers negatively and make them to age in pain,
sadness, ill-health, broken home, among other challenges.
Many works have been carried out on the effects of positive and negative perception of
ageing, but there is gap in research on psycho-social variables that influence perception of
ageing, therefore this study sets out to ascertain the influence of psycho-social variables on
perception of ageing among teachers in Anambra and Akwa-Ibom states, Nigeria.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study was to determine the influence of psycho-social variables on
perception of ageing among teachers in Anambra and Akwa-Ibom states. Specifically, the
study aims to:
1. examine differences in the perception of ageing among teachers based on their gender
and state of origin.
2. investigate whether state of origin/residence has any influence on ageing stereotypes
among teachers.
3. establish to what extent the composite impact of societal roles, ageing stereotypes and
socio-economic status influence perception of ageing among teachers in Anambra and
Akwa-Ibom states.
4. ascertain the impact of perception of ageing on the emotional adjustment of teachers
in the two states.
5. ascertain whether perception of ageing influence the self-esteem of teachers in
Anambra and Akwa-Ibom states.
6. establish the impact of positive perception of ageing on the health status of teachers in
the two states.
7. ascertain if there are differences in ageing anxiety among teachers based on their
gender and state of origin.

Research Questions
The following research questions guided this study:-

  1. what is the difference in the perception of ageing among teachers based on their
    gender and state of origin?
    what is the difference in ageing stereotypes due to state of origin/residence among
    teachers?
    3. to what extent will the composite impact of societal roles, ageing stereotypes and
    socio-economic status influence the perception of ageing among teachers in Anambra
    and Akwa-Ibom states?
    4. to what extent does perception of ageing influence the emotional adjustment of
    teachers in Akwa-Ibom and Anambra states?
    5. to what extent does perception of ageing influence the self-esteem of teachers in Anambra and Akwa-Ibom states?
    6. to what extent does positive perception of ageing influence the health status of
    teachers in Akwa-Ibom and Anambra states?
    7. what is the difference in ageing anxiety among teachers based on their gender and
    state of origin?

Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses guided this research work:-

  1. there will be no significant difference based on gender and state of origin in the
    perception of ageing among teachers.
    2. there will be no significant difference due to state of origin in ageing stereotypes
    among teachers.
    3. there will be no significant composite influence of societal roles, ageing stereotypes
    and socio-economic status on perception of ageing among teachers in Anambra and
    Akwa-Ibom states.
    4. perception of ageing will have no significant influence on the emotional adjustment of
    teachers in Akwa-Ibom and Anambra states.
    5. perception of ageing will not significantly influence the self-esteem of teachers in
    Anambra and Akwa-Ibom states.
    6. positive perceptions of ageing will not significantly impact the health status of
    teachers in Akwa-Ibom and Anambra states
    7. there will be no significant differences in ageing anxiety among teachers based on
    their gender and state of origin.
    1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
    The study was limited to teachers in Anambra and Akwa Ibom states, Nigeria. Teachers
    between ages 45-59 years from randomly selected 35 secondary schools in Anambra state
    and 36 secondary schools in Akwa-Ibom states were used for this study. Teachers between
    ages 45-59 years were used because they are within the mid-ages and retirement age and
    therefore may be facing retirement crisis over ageing. Also for the study sample to be within
    the school as retirement starts at age 60. The study investigated the influence of psycho-social
    variables on perception of ageing among teachers in Anambra and Akwa-Ibom states. The
    justification for choosing the two states was based on some cultural differences on their
    attitude towards ageing. Many Igbo men and women from Anambra state accept ageing based
    on societal status such as grand-parenthood, chieftaincy titles, leadership positions and
    having adult children, while this is not the case in Akwa-Ibom state where such status does
    not change their attitude towards ageing, rather the women despite such status according to
    oral interviews, see themselves as being young and can compete with the young ones in
    social activities.
    1.7 Significance of the Study
    The results from this study would be beneficial to educational psychologists, teachers,
    guidance counsellors, men and women in their mid-ages, policy makers and curriculum
    planners.
    To Educational Psychologists, it would enable them to identify some of the psycho-social
    challenges of the ageing persons such as anxiety, low self-esteem, negative sterotypes and so
    make appropriate referrals to the proper professional bodies that can handle such problems to
    help the ageing adjust properly as they advance in chronological year. When the right therapy
    is offered to an emotionally traumatized ageing teacher, it will help to put him/her in the right
    frame of mind to offer good services in his/her job which will be visible in the performances
    of the students.
    To the teachers this study would expose them to various psycho-social variables that may
    affect their ageing either negatively or positively, so that they will be better equipped to face
    the challenges of old age. They would be armed with the relevant theories that would help
    them to develop the right mind set that would assist them to be responsible for their own
    ageing. This is because westernization is gradually affecting the traditional extended family
    system and communal life style where the elderly were taken care of by immediate and
    extended family members, but that system is eroding gradually. They should start early to
    plan for retirement and ageing by investing wisely. Teachers would be challenged to
    inculcate in their students such values as respect for the ageing, hard work, proper plan for
    the future, maintaining good social network, etc. as these will help them to avoid life of
    regrets, despair and pain as they age.
    The Guidance Counsellors would be exposed to some societal stereotypes which may have
    posed challenges to people not living out their full potentials. They will be better informed
    and well equipped to give proper counseling and right therapies that will put such people in
    the right frame of mind to live their life and feel fulfilled. Such people may likely accept
    ageing positively.
    Again, this research work will be beneficial to men and women who are in their mid- ages.
    The mid age comes with biological changes that sprout some mental, physical and
    psychological challenges that affect these groups adjustment pattern. This study would
    expose them to some of these biological changes so that they can accept them as natural
    phenomena, and so develop the right frame of mind as they age.
    Furthermore, the result of this research work would also be beneficial to policy makers. It
    will guide them to map out strategies to help the expanding ageing population by giving prior
    and proper orientation on adjustment strategies before retirement. Government at all levels
    should involve private pension managers to manage the gratuity and pension of their workers.
    This would improve efficiency, prompt payment of teachers’ pension to reduce their
    suffering after retirement to enable teachers disengage from service with little or no crisis and
    accept ageing positively.
    1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
    The following terms were operationally defined as used in the study.
    · Ageing: – In the context of this research work ageing is seen as the process of
    advancement in chronological years.
    · Anxiety:-In this study anxiety is taken as the fear and worry over advancement in
    chronological age
    · Emotional Adjustment:-In this work emotional adjustment is the survival
    mechanism or device by the ageing to withstand the external and internal stressors or
    identity crises they face in the society as a result of ageing.
    · Perception: – In this study perception means the way people think about or
    understand ageing and form impressions based on their understanding.
    · Psycho-social variables:-These are psychological and social factors that influence
    perception of ageing. However the areas used in this study are Anambra and AkwaIbom states.
    Such factors as stereotype, societal roles, socio-economic status, self-esteem, anxiety
    and emotion.
    · Retirement:- In this work retirement is when a person disengages from paid
    employment at the age of 60 years or having reached the statutory age of 35 years in
    service
    · Self-Esteem:- It is taken as the negative or positive judgment or evaluation of the
    ageing as a result of how they perceive themselves or how they are perceived by
    others.
    · Societal Roles: – These are the functions and positions the ageing is expected to
    occupy as a result of their new status such as grandparents, in-laws, etc.
    · Socio-economic Status: – In this study socio-economic status is how rich or poor a
    person is; it is determined by individual level of education and income.
    · State of Origin: – This is the state a person belongs to by birth. That is where his or
    her parents come from.
    · Stereotypes: – They are characteristics such as old people are always sick, they
    behave like children, they are not sociable, frail, boring, dull, not sexy, forgetful,
    unproductive, possessive, wise, loving, caring, etc, ascribed to or used to label the
    ageing because of their advancement in chronological age without regard for
    individual differences or unique circumstances.

 

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