Study shows: Today’s older adults perceive more control over their lives than earlier generations
Good news for anyone concerned about becoming older: not everything gets worse
with age. Today’s 65-year-olds feel significantly less constrained on average in
their experience of control than 65-year-olds 18 years ago.
Conversely, a different picture has emerged for younger adults: the generation of today’s 25 to 39-year-olds report diminished mastery beliefs.
Authors of the study include researchers from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
(HU), Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) and Brandeis University (USA).
Their findings have just been published in Developmental Psychology. The
publication is based on the data of the ‘Midlife in the US Study’ (MIDUS), which
is representative for the US population.
The findings suggest that several demographic groups who previously felt
disadvantaged in their perceptions of control (such as women and older adults)
have caught up, whereas the gap for other population groups in this area seems
to be expanding.
The researchers link the gains in perceived control with socio-cultural factors
such as level of education. Improved physical fitness and the associated higher
degree of independence in old age – as the researchers suspect – also contribute
towards perceiving more control among older people. Similar findings to those in
the US have in the meantime also been obtained by the research group around
Johanna Drewelies from older adults in Germany and the Netherlands.
“We anticipate, however, that the observed positive effects on perceived control
significantly diminish when people are approaching the end of life,” added Denis
Gerstorf. This is supported by current studies that focus on people’s last years
Drewelies, J., Agrigoroaei, S., Lachman, M. E., & Gerstorf, D. (in press). „Age
variations in cohort differences in the United States: Older adults report fewer
constraints nowadays than those 18 years ago, but mastery beliefs are diminished
among younger adults“.
Published: 06/28/2018, in: Developmental Psychology
Dr. Johanna Drewelies
Phone: +49 30 2093-4917