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Perceiving control: A double-edged sword in old age

Although control beliefs are thought to be pivotal contributors to emotional well-being in old age, questions remain about the specific and long-term emotional implications of different types of control beliefs. Researchers examined 3 generalized beliefs about control (personal control over desirable outcomes, personal responsibility for undesirable outcomes, perceived others' control) and their associations with emotional well-being (positive and negative affect). Cross-sectional and longitudinal samples (516 and 206 individuals, respectively) from the Berlin Aging Study were used; Ss were 70-103 yrs old. Relationships between control beliefs and emotional well-being were dependent on the type of control belief and the dimension of emotional well-being considered, the sample investigated, and on whether individual differences at a given point in time or individual differences in intraindividual changes over time were examined. Despite these complexities, findings suggest that perceived control over desirable outcomes is associated with high emotional well-being, whereas perceived others' control is an emotional risk factor in old age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)