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Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2019 Jan;88(1):60-81. doi: 10.1177/0091415017748366. Epub 2017 Dec 26.

Does Aging and Disease Increase the Importance of Cognitive Strategies? Social and Temporal Comparisons in Healthy Younger and Older Adults and in Younger and Older Cancer Patients.

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1 Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
2 Research Unit for General Practice, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
3 Familiehuset Bisgård, Aalborg, Denmark.


Social and temporal comparisons may help the individual anchor his or her self-image in a social and temporal context. In the Life-Span Theory of Control, comparisons are included in the repertoire of secondary control strategies individuals may apply when primary control strategies are obstructed, for example, by age-related losses or physical decline. The aim of this study was to explore differences in prevalence and effects of social and temporal comparisons in younger and older adults and healthy and diseased individuals ( n = 34). Semistructured interviews were conducted and analyzed using a mixed-methods approach combining qualitative and quantitative data analysis. The results revealed that older adults engaged in more comparisons than younger adults and that the outcomes of comparisons were more positive for older adults, particularly older cancer patients. The results indicate that comparisons may be applied more often by older and diseased individuals in the service of maintaining well-being.


Life-Span Theory of Control; secondary control; social comparison; temporal comparison


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