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Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2008;66(4):283-305.

Age-related differences in worry and related processes.

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  • 1Gilmour Psychological Services, Ottawa, Canada.


This study investigated the hypothesis that older adults would show age-related reductions in the tendency to worry in both their retrospective accounts and through cross-sectional age comparisons with a sample of younger adults. We also sought to determine whether age differences would be evident in psychological processes associated with a tendency to worry in general adult samples (intolerance of uncertainty and beliefs in the functional value of worry). Support was found for the hypothesized age-related reduction in worry in both retrospective reports among the older adults and cross-sectional age comparisons. Older adults were also found to report less intolerance of uncertainty and less belief in the functional value of worrying compared to younger adults. These findings suggest that worry-proneness is reduced in late adulthood and that a greater ability to tolerate uncertainty in life and to see less value in worrying may partially account for this. Developmental and contextual changes that may account for these findings are considered.

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