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Aging Ment Health. 2004 Jan;8(1):58-64.

Positive illusions and mental and physical health in later life.

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Department of Psychology, University Nancy, France.


There are three competing conceptions concerning the relationship between positive illusions and mental health: the 'traditional' mental health model, according to which an accurate perception of the self and the world is a cornerstone of psychological well-adjustment; Taylor and Brown's Social Psychological Model on mental health, which assumes that positive illusions promote good mental health; and Baumeister's Optimal Margin Theory, which states that too much accuracy is harmful to mental health, as are exaggerated illusions. These three models were evaluated in the elderly (n = 857 retirees ages 60-95) using the youthful bias, which is the illusion of being younger than one's real age. As a whole, the Social Psychological Model obtained the strongest support. Retirees who harboured an exaggerated youthful bias (more than 15 years) reported more satisfaction with leisure time, higher self-esteem, better perceived health, and less boredom proneness than those who felt as old as they were or who, except for perceived health, entertained a moderate youthful bias (between 1 and 15 years).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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