The Relevance of Control Beliefs for Health and Aging

summary, conclusIons, and

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summary, conclusIons, and

future dIrectIons
Adults and those in later life with a high sense of control appear better off on many indicators of health and well-being. However, those who have a lower sense of control maybe at increased risk fora wide range of negative behavioral, affective, and functional outcomes, including higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, use of fewer health protective behaviors (e.g., exercise) and compensatory memory strategies (e.g., internal or external memory aids, and have poorer health and memory functioning. The apparent decline of the sense of control associated with aging is of concern especially given the adaptive value of maintaining beliefs in one’s control over outcomes. We have presented a wealth of information about control beliefs, but there is much to explore before we understand the dynamic processes involved in changes and the linkages with outcomes. Sense of control is a promising dimension because it is amenable to change unlike more traditional stable personality traits (Hooker & mcAdams, 2003
). This can potentially lead us in the direction of new interventions to promote optimal aging.
Although age and education differences in health are pervasive and account for much of the variance in functioning, the sense of control has the potential to mediate or moderate some proportion of the differences. It is not just that beliefs play out as a self- fulfilling prophecy or through wishful thinking. A sense of control is a fundamental core set of self-regu- latory beliefs that affects how situations are perceived and provides motivation for whether or not to exert effort or attempt new tasks (

Bandura, 1997

). The sense of control is a powerful psychosocial factor that influences health and well-being through behavioral and physiological means. Having a sense of control puts those from different levels of SeS on a more common ground in terms of health and well-being (
Lachman & Weaver, b. The linkages identified between control and stress show promise for improving health and aging outcomes. Those who have a low sense of control may experience more stress with physical consequences because of the feeling that there is nothing that can be done, which goes against the basic human needs for agency and motives to be effective.
The sense of control may dwindle with age, yet it is important to note that some are able to maintain control especially in selected domains. Thus, an important direction for future research is to understand how to harness the sense of control and to widen the net of control in later life. This may lead

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