Carnegie Mellon University

Retirement Study


The purpose of this study is to understand thoughts and feelings that couples commonly experience while on the path to retirement.

Participant Criteria

The Retirement Study works with married couples or long term partners in which at least one member of the couple is 55 years of age or older and is either about to retire or has retired within the last two years. Couple members may not be on any type of beta blocker medication as that will interfere with the physiological data we are acquiring.

Session Outline

Participation involves (a) visiting Carnegie Mellon University for two sessions, each of which last approximately 2 hours, and (b) completing two follow-up surveys by mail six months and one year later.

For the first part of the study, both partners visit Carnegie Mellon to complete questionnaires about their health, relationship, and thoughts about retirement. Couple members complete the questionnaires privately in separate rooms and no one outside of our research team will see their responses. This session will last approximately 2 hours.

For the second part of the study, couples return to the lab about a week later to participate in some discussions and games together. To measure the body’s reactions to each activity, we’ll ask each couple member to wear a blood pressure cuff and some sensors that will be attached to the torso, back, and hand to monitor heart rate, respiration, and perspiration. Some of the activities are videotaped, but couples will have an opportunity to erase their tape at the end of the study if they wish to do so.

After each activity we ask couples to fill out some short questionnaires about their thoughts and feelings about the different activities. This part of the study will take about 2 1/2 hours to complete.

Finally, we contact couples by mail 6 months and one year later to complete follow-up surveys and mail them back to us. Participation is completely voluntary and all of the information that we obtain from couples during this study will be kept strictly confidential and anonymous.


To thank couples for their participation, they will receive payment after each session for contributing their time.


To participate in this study, for eligibility criteria, and for more information, please contact Jennifer Tomlinson (project coordinator) at 412-268-4193 or

This research is being funded by the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, and has been approved by the Carnegie Mellon University Institutional Review