The Relevance of Control Beliefs for Health and Aging



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InterventIons to modIfy

control BelIefs
given the apparent benefits of high control beliefs and the likelihood of declines in sense of control in later life, it is worthwhile to consider whether and how control beliefs can be enhanced. There area number of studies that examined whether it is possible to modify control beliefs among older adults and if this would affect outcomes in a given domain. many adults assume they are too old to improve performance or functioning or to makeup for losses in areas associated with aging, such as memory or physical ability. given these widespread beliefs, interventions to change memory and health behaviors maybe more successful if beliefs about control (abilities and contingencies) are also directly addressed in conjunction with skills training. Just focusing on performance experience does not seem to be enough to result in behavior change for older adults, perhaps because maladaptive beliefs about aging interfere (
Bandura,
1997
). Thus, interventions with a joint focus on modifying control beliefs (e.g., for memory or falls) and acquiring new skills and behaviors (e.g., strategy use, physical activity) maybe most effective (
Lachman et al., 1997
). A key assumption of this multifaceted approach is that enduring behavior change is unlikely without first instilling confidence that aging-related declines can be controlled. for example, a fear of falling is relatively common among older adults and results in reduced activity. This is typically manifested as a low sense of efficacy for engaging in activities without falling and a sense that falling is uncontrollable (

Tennstedt et al., Several studies have shown that perceptions of personal control can be manipulated experimentally. They can be modified using different procedures such as presenting participants with scenarios in which they door do not have control over the outcome

(
Laurin et al., 2008
), asking them to recall recent events over which they did or did not have control (Kay et al., 2008
), providing random feedback or feedback contingent on participants responses
(
Whitson & galinsky, 2008
), or cognitive restructuring (
Lachman et al., 1992
). Perceived leisure control the extent to which the individual perceives control of events and outcomes in his or her leisure experiences, but not the general sense of control, was increased in older adults by a leisure education program (
Searle et al., 1995
). However, over the long run
(16-18 week followup, there also was significant improvement in the generalized measure of locus of control (
Searle et al., A classic intervention study was carried out by
Langer and Rodin (1996)
with nursing home residents. They were given more control over the environment (e.g., taking care of a plant, choosing activities, and this had positive long-term effects on well-being, activity, and health. Schulz (1976)
found that nursing home residents who were given predictability and control over the timing of visits from student volunteers had higher well-being in the short run compared to those who did not have an influence on the visiting schedule. However, after the visiting program ended, those who had been given the most control and predictability suffered the most negative consequences, suggesting that providing control temporarily and


SOCIAL And HeALTH fACTORS THAT ImPACT AgIng
Chapter
THe ReLeVAnCe Of COnTROL BeLIefS fOR HeALTH And AgIng
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