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Psychol Aging. 1994 Jun;9(2):265-73.

Self-percepts of control in middle and later adulthood: buffering losses by rescaling goals.

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Department of Psychology, University of Trier, Germany.


The authors propose a model of how a sense of control is maintained in later adulthood through shifts in the subjective importance of developmental goals. Developmental goals and control beliefs were repeatedly assessed over an 8-year interval on a core sample of 735 participants (initial age range: 30-59 years). The findings reveal a high degree of stability in generalized perceptions of control even in the transition to later adulthood. In line with predictions, moderated multiple regressions indicated(a) that the degree to which self-percepts of control within a particular goal domain affect an individual's general sense of control depends on the personal importance of that domain, and (b) that losses of control within a goal domain affect general perceptions of control to a lesser degree if the importance of the respective domain is downscaled within the same longitudinal interval. Implications for theories of depression as well as for successful aging are discussed.

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