The Relevance of Control Beliefs for Health and Aging



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control and the degree of controllability. Internal sources were assumed to be within the person’s control, yet some internal sources are not highly controllable (e.g., genetic influences. Other concerns raised about the early locus of control work were that a) internal and external control was seen as opposite poles of a continuum rather than as separate dimensions that are relatively independent and (b) control was considered a general, stable individual difference variable that applied across domains, rather than acknowledging that control beliefs also vary across time (
eizenman et al., 1997
) and specific areas of life
(
Lachman, 1986; Lefcourt, As the roots of the sense of control construct are in social learning theory (Rotter, 1966
), control is usually considered a learned view of the self and the environment rather than a fixed personality trait, and as such it is subject to change with aging (
Abeles, 1991; Hooker & mcAdams, 2003; Pearlin & Pioli, 2003
). much of the locus of control work was correlational, using personality trait type items. This early work was focused on college students and children, but was not developmental. It was in the late s that control was first studied in relation to aging, with the initial focus on enhancing control among institutionalized older adults (
Langer & Rodin, 1976; Rodin &
Langer, 1977; Schulz, 1976; Schulz & Hanusa, 1978

). Studies on the control construct in relation to aging led to advancements in both theory and measurement, and have contributed to understanding the role of beliefs and expectancies foraging. This work was in large part inspired by sociologists (Brim, 1974

) and social psychologists (
Abeles, 1991; Rodin, 1986
), and adopted by lifespan developmental psychologists (
Heckhausen et al., 2010; Lachman, 1986, 2006; Skinner, 1996
) and gerontologists (
Krause & Stryker,
1984
). Those interested in adult development and aging began to think about the control construct in developmental and contextual terms (
Lachman,
1986
). This includes work on the motivational and behavioral self-regulatory functions of control via self-efficacy and outcome expectancies (miller &
Lachman, 2000
) and theories such as the lifespan theory of control (
Heckhausen et al., 2010
) and the dual process model of assimilation and accommodation (
Brandtstädter & Renner, One of the most prolific control theories focuses on self-efficacy, or the perceived ability to carryout specific goals or tasks (
Bandura, 1997
). Self-efficacy and control beliefs play an important role in adaptation and regulate human functioning through cognitive, motivational, affective, and selection processes (
Bandura, 1990
). Lowered expectancies for self-efficacy and control likely have their origin in negative stereotypes about aging and are reinforced through experiences of loss and decline (
Bandura,
1997
). Other related theories such as the lifespan developmental theory of motivation and control
(
Heckhausen et al., 2010

), with a focus on primary change the environment) and secondary control change the self) and the model of assimilation tenacious goal pursuit) and accommodation (flexible goal adjustment

Brandtstädter & Renner, 1990
), focus on control strivings and strategies for exercising control, and describe approaches to goal attainment. These control strategies are best studied in time- ordered processes in which it is possible to observe responses indifferent circumstances (e.g., achieving a goal or after goal failure) rather than as a general predisposition. Theoretically, those with a higher sense of control should be more likely to adopt a variety of adaptive control strategies depending on the circumstances (Wrosch, Heckhausen & Lachman, 2000). Although much of the work on control has focused on stable individual differences, we now turn to consider whether and how control beliefs and strategies vary or change with age.



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