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Short-term buffers, but long-term suffers? Differential effects of negative self-perceptions of aging following serious health events
Objectives: Large longitudinal studies show that negative self-perceptions of aging can be detrimental for health outcomes. However, negative self-perceptions of aging (i.e., associating aging with physical losses) might be adaptive because they prepare individuals for serious health events (SHEs), resulting in short-term positive effects as opposed to long-term negative effects on well-being and health.
Method: Longitudinal data from 309 older adults (aged 65 and older) were analyzed. Short-term (6 months) and long-term (2.5 years) effects after a SHE of negative self-perceptions of aging on functional limitations (FLs) and negative affect (NA) were investigated.
Results: Results show that in the case of a SHE, individuals with more negative self-perceptions of aging reported less NA after 6 months but more FLs after 2.5 years. In contrast, individuals with less negative self-perceptions of aging reported more NA in the short-run but less FLs later on.
Discussion: People with more negative self-perceptions of aging may be mentally prepared for health events or may have habituated to health declines. Individuals with more positive self-perceptions, in contrast, may invest a lot in coping efforts immediately after the health event. Similarities to research on unrealistic optimism are discussed.
Publication titleJournals of Gerontology. Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Department/SchoolSchool of Psychological Sciences
PublisherGerontological Society Amer
Place of publicationUnited States
Rights statementCopyright 2015 The Author