The Relevance of Control Beliefs for Health and Aging


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Chapter self-reported perceived stress and lower risk of depression (Yates Tennstedt, & Chang, 1999). Higher levels of perceived control also buffered recently bereaved wives from anxiety when they confronted daily stressors (
Ong et al., 2005
). Age and control beliefs played an important role in reactivity to daily interpersonal, network, and work stressors in the national Study of daily experiences subproject of the mIdUS survey
neupert et al., 2007
). Older age and lower perceived constraints were each related to lower emotional and physical reactivity to interpersonal stressors. High personal mastery buffered the physical effects of work stressors for younger and older adults and was important for middle-aged adults emotional reactivity to network stressors. Those who had low perceived control, as indicated by reports of high levels of environmental constraints, had the strongest physical reactivity to network stressors for younger and older adults.

Another promising area of future research involves the examination of intraindividual variability in control beliefs as they relate to responses to stressors. neupert, ennis et al. (2009) examined the role of daily fluctuations in control beliefs regarding daily stressors with respect to emotional reactivity to daily stressors among older adults over eight days. Results indicated that a majority (66%) of the variance in daily control beliefs regarding stressors was due to within-person fluctuations overtime, highlighting the importance of examining control beliefs with a process-oriented approach

(e.g., eizenman et al., 1997
). Reactivity to stressors was heightened on days with decreased control beliefs and was buffered on days with increased control beliefs. These results suggest that fluctuations in daily control beliefs play an important role in minimizing the affective response to daily stressors in older adults, but future work examining additional responses such as physical and cognitive outcomes as well as comparisons with younger and middle-aged adults is needed.
much of the research on physiological mechanisms linking control beliefs and health has focused on the
HPA axis. Other areas showing promise fora more complete understanding of mind-body processes include immune functioning, inflammatory responses, and the autonomic nervous system (
Cacioppo, 1994;
Seeman, 1991

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