The Relevance of Control Beliefs for Health and Aging


BrIef hIstory and conceptual



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BrIef hIstory and conceptual

overvIew of the construct
of control
In psychology and related fields, control is studied in many different forms with many different labels and subtle variations, including self-efficacy, sense of control, personal mastery, perceived control, locus of control, learned helplessness, and primary and secondary control, just to name a few (
). One important distinction is between objective control and subjective perceptions of control. In this chapter we focus on the latter, with an emphasis on beliefs about control over aging and outcomes relevant to aging (e.g. health, memory. The perceptions and expectations individuals hold about their ability to control outcomes mayor may not be veridical, and they may vary across domains and time. Within this framework, it is the expectan- cies that matter, and in many cases the actual amount of control one has is unknown. With the focus on perceived control in this chapter, what is especially of interest is that people vary in the amount of control they perceive over the same situation (independent of actual control, and these individual differences in beliefs make a difference for functioning
). We will later discuss some of the possible mechanisms involved in linking these beliefs to aging-related and health outcomes.

The control beliefs construct first emerged as the locus of control, under the rubric of social learning theory (sources of control, as either internal (e.g., abilities, effort) or external (e.g., chance, fate, powerful others) to the person. Although a highly fruitful line of work, the internal-external distinction was limited especially due to a confound between the source of

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