Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Associate Professor Andrew Ellerman


Previous research has recognised the negative psychological distress associated with unemployment for older workers aged over 40 years, as they are considered to be more at risk of being unemployed for a longer duration than other age groups. Several moderating variables of the negative effects of unemployment such as age, length of unemployment and leisure participation have also been identified. In examining the experiences of unemployment with an Australian mature-aged group of men, this study also investigated the potential moderating effect of volunteer work participation that had been noted previously but had never been explored. One-hundred and eighteen men aged between 38 and 60 years old (M. = 48.85 years) anonymously completed a booklet containing several measures of depression, anxiety, stress, alcohol consumption and abuse, and stress-related growth (ability to thrive as a result of negative life events). Compared to employed men, unemployed men were found to have significantly higher levels of depression, and thriving, but not increased anxiety, stress, or risk of alcohol abuse. Performing volunteer work was found to be related to lower levels of depression and stress in both employed and unemployed men. Results were explained in consideration of Jahoda's (1981, 1982) deprivation theory, Fryer and Payne's (1984) agency theory and Warr's (1987, 1994) vitamin model. Limitations of the study and recommendations for further research are also discussed.