The Relevance of Control Beliefs for Health and Aging



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mechanisms and processes

linking control Beliefs and
aging-related outcomes
The relationships between control beliefs and health in later life are fairly well established research involves identifying the mechanisms and processes involved in linking control beliefs with aging related outcomes such as illness or memory
(
). There are wide individual differences in multiple components of perceived control (self-efficacy or competence, contingency or constraints, and such appraisals are related to behaviors and outcomes including use of adaptive compensatory memory strategies and health-promoting behaviors lowered sense of control may have affective, behavioral, motivational, and physiological effects, including greater levels of stress and anxiety, lower levels of effort, and persistence and strategy use, as well as less frequent engagement in memory tasks or physical activities, which can influence aging outcomes in multiple domains. Self-efficacy and control beliefs have been postulated as a mediator of the relationship between stereotypes about aging and physiolog- possible mechanisms involved in control processes and proposed a conceptual model (see of the self-regulatory role of adaptive beliefs (e.g., control) and behaviors (e.g., strategy use, physical activity) in relation to aging-related changes. In this conceptual framework, derived from cognitive- behavioral theory (
), the processes are assumed to be reciprocal and cyclical in that outcomes and experiences (e.g., memory or physical declines) can have an impact on control beliefs, which in turn can affect behavioral or physiological mediators as well as future outcomes

). Those with a high sense of control are more likely to mobilize social support in times of need

). However, having or giving social support can also promote a sense of control over one’s life
). Thus, sense of control is considered to bean antecedent and consequence of age-related losses, for example, in memory (
). In other words, this model depicts a multidirectional process in which control beliefs are influenced by prior performance outcomes and beliefs about control also have an influence on subsequent performance and outcomes through their impact on behavior, motivation, and affect
). for example, older adults who experience memory lapses or declines in physical strength may respond with a lowered sense of control in these domains, especially if these changes are attributed to uncontrollable factors. Such beliefs in low control can be detrimental if they are associated with distress, anxiety, inactivity, and giving up without expending the effort or using the strategies needed to support optimal outcomes In the cognitive domain, the sense of control is tied to better memory and intellectual functioning, especially among older adults (e.g., cial for cognitive performance by providing a necessary motivational resource for the development of effortful strategies used to compensate for cognitive limitations or losses (strategy use (
) and goal setting compensate for memory losses, but past research has found that older adults are less likely to use memory strategies effectively than the young (
). even if older adults use strategies they are less likely than the young to attribute their




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