The Relevance of Control Beliefs for Health and Aging


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Chapter arousal (
Bandura, 1997
), or by creating an expectation of failure (
desrichard & Köpetz, 2005
) that may lead individuals to put forth less effort and be less persistent (Berry & West, 1993
) in memory situations.
Hultsch et al. (1998)
reported a consistent small negative correlation between an individual’s mSe and scores on a mnemonics usage scale, but several studies have shown that mSe is not significantly linked to the tendency to use such strategies (
mcdonald- miszczak et al., 1999; Wells & esopenko, 2008
). furthermore, in a recent study, Wells and esopenko
did not find a relationship between mSe and the amount of time participants spent on a free-recall task. mSe, however, has been shown to impact goal systems and the choice of activities (Berry & West,
1993; West et al., 2009
). According to the results obtained by
Bagwell and West (2008
), mSe also predicts investment in memory intervention programs.
A potential mechanism linking control beliefs to better health is engagement in beneficial health- related behaviors. Those who have a higher sense of control are more likely to exercise regularly, eat a healthier diet, and therefore have better health
Lachman & firth, 2004
). According to the social- cognitive model of physical activity by


, self-efficacy is a primary determinant of consistent, health-promoting levels of physical activity. It is important to note, however, that the relationship between exercise self-efficacy beliefs and exercise behaviors is reciprocal. Behavior change is also determined by outcome expectations or sense of control- lability; that is, whether one expects one’s actions to lead to desirable outcomes. One might have high self- efficacy for exercise, but if one believes that exercise does not do anything to prevent or remediate aging- related losses, there would belittle motivation to continue exercising (
Lachman, 2006; Lachman et al.,
). Ina longitudinal investigation of exercise self- efficacy and control beliefs in a sample of previously sedentary older adults with at least one disability, neupert, Lachman & Whitbourne (2009) found that exercise beliefs and exercise behavior were associated with one another and that beliefs developed during an intervention were important for maintenance of an exercise regimen. Those with higher control beliefs chose to use higher intensity and resistance levels during the intervention, and were more likely to continue exercising 9 to 12 months after the intervention program ended.
findings about control as a moderating or buffering factor are also promising.

Lachman and Weaver b found that the relationship between SeS and health was moderated by a sense of control. The social gradient of health is well-documented; those with lower SeS, either measured by income or educational attainment, are more likely to have poor health (Adler et al., 1993

). What is less well known is under what conditions the gradient can be reduced. performance to strategies (
Blatt-eisengart & Lachman, There are also findings regarding stress level or stress reactivity as a mediator between control beliefs and memory performance and health (
müller et al.,
1998; Seeman, 1991
). experiencing personal control in a challenging situation has been shown to reduce stress-related neuroendocrine responses such as in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response
Seeman & Robbins, 1994
). Cognitive appraisal of challenge and threat as well as perceived control- lability have an impact on response and recovery
dickerson & Kemeny, 2004
). Other results reveal that stressors can activate responses in the HPA and autonomic nervous system (e.g., slowing or increasing in heart rate, especially if the stimulus is appraised as threatening and not under personal control. moreover, when stressors are seen as uncontrollable and the goal is important or desirable, the reactivity level is higher (
dickerson & Kemeny, 2004
). Those with low control are more likely to show high levels of stress, which in turn affects memory performance among younger (
Kirschbaum et alas well as older adults (
Lupien et al., 1997
). The evidence suggests that acute stress affects memory performance by causing hippocampal damage (
Kirschbaum et al.,
1996; Lupien et al., 1997
). Similarly, prolonged exposure to stress has also been associated with a loss of hippocampal neurons (
mcewen & Sapolsky, 1995
). Thus control may play a role in brain aging through stress mechanisms.

Self-reported anxiety is related to memory performance for older adults more so than for the young

Andreoletti et al., 2006
) and maybe another mediator between control and memory performance. for mSe and control beliefs, low levels may result in reduced memory performance (Berry & West, 1993
); for example, by increasing the level of anxiety and
affective, and physiological
Control beliefs
Attributions Effort, activity,
strategy use,
stress reactivity
Background factors:

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