By M. Powell Lawton PhD, George Maddox PhD
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Additional resources for Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Volume 5, 1985: Social & Psychological Aspects of Aging
They suggested that, for the majority of older individuals, degree of well-being is more likely the result of relative changes in control opportunities occurring over a short period of time than absolute levels of control. More precisely, it may be only when individuals undergo a sudden change in level of control, as they might due to an experimental intervention, that positive or negative outcomes result. Certainly changes in one's level of control are more salient than one's absolute level, and for this reason loss of control may have a more dramatic effect.
In the same study, Rodin (1983) examined changes in urinary free cortisol. Subjects in all the groups except the no-treatment controls showed substantial reductions in urinary free cortisol levels (presumably as a function of reduced stress) from pre- to post-intervention measures. However, only the self-regulation skills group was found to have maintained lower cortisol levels at an 18-month follow-up. Declines in cortisol levels were significantly related to subjects' increased participation in active and planned activities, increased energy, perceived freedom to effect change in the environment, and perceived say in determining outcomes.
Kuypers (1972) reported that internal locus of control scores among noninstitutionalized elderly were positively related to better coping abilities, in that internals showed greater adaptability and less defensiveness than externals. Holahan, Holahan, and Belk (1984) hypothesized that factors fostering elderly persons' perceptions of self-efficacy may be an essential aspect of coping with both life change events and daily hassles. For men, self-efficacy with respect to life events was negatively correlated with depression and the experience of psychosomatic symptoms, whereas self-efficacy regarding daily hassles was negatively correlated with symptomatology only.