Level and change in perceived control predict 19-year mortality: Findings from the americans' changing lives study

Frank J. Infurna, Nilam Ram, Denis Gerstorf

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Abstract

Perceived control plays an important role for health across adulthood and old age. However, little is known about the factors that account for such associations and whether changes in control (or control trajectory) uniquely predict major health outcomes over and above mean levels of control. Using data from the nationwide Americans' Changing Lives Study (House et al., 1990; N = 2,840, M age at T2: 56.32 years, range: 28-99, 64% women), we examined the extent to which mean levels and rates of change in perceived control over 16 years predict all-cause mortality over a 19-year follow-up period. Shared growth-survival models revealed that higher levels of and more positive changes in perceived control were associated with longer survival times, independent of sociodemographic correlates. We found that level effects of control were accounted for by well-being and health factors, whereas the change effects of control were not. Analyses also indicated an age-differential pattern, with the predictive effects of both levels and trajectories of control declining in old age. We discuss possible pathways through which perceived control operates to facilitate key health outcomes and consider how their malleability and effectiveness may change with increasing age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1833-1847
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume49
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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