Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Social & Environmental Factors Play Important Role In How People Age, Two Studies Find

Date:
September 14, 2004
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Why do some older people experience a rapid decline in their physical and functional health while some of their peers remain healthy and active? While your genes and overall physical health play a role, new research shows how psychosocial factors can also play an important role.

WASHINGTON -- Why do some older people experience a rapid decline in their physical and functional health while some of their peers remain healthy and active? While your genes and overall physical health play a role, new research shows how psychosocial factors can also play an important role. Two studies report on this in the September issue of Psychology and Aging, a journal published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

In the first study, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found a link between positive emotions and the onset of frailty in 1,558 initially non-frail older Mexican Americans living in five southwestern states – Texas, California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. This was the first study to examine frailty and the protective role of positive emotions in the largest minority population in the United States.

Study authors Glenn Ostir, Ph.D., Kenneth Ottenbacher, Ph.D., and Kyriakos Markides, Ph.D., followed the participants for seven years and assessed frailty by measuring the participants' weight loss, exhaustion, walking speed and grip strength. Positive affect (positive emotions) was measured during the study period by asking the participants how often in the last week "I felt that I was just as good as other people," "I felt hopeful about the future," "I was happy," and "I enjoyed life."

The overall incidence of frailty increased almost eight percent during the seven-year follow-up period, but those who scored high on positive affect were significantly less likely to become frail. Each unit increase in baseline positive affect score was associated with a three percent decreased risk of frailty after adjusting for relevant risk factors.

The precise reason for this happening was beyond the scope of the current study, but the researchers speculate that positive emotions may directly affect health via chemical and neural responses involved in maintaining homeostatic balance. Or a more indirect process may be at work, according to the authors, with positive emotions affecting health by increasing a person's intellectual, physical, psychological and social resources.

In the second study, researchers Thomas Hess, Ph.D., Joey Hinson, M.A., and Jill Statham, B.A., from North Carolina State University investigated how negative stereotypes about aging influences older adults' memory. Their study involved 193 participants and two experiments, each with a younger (17 – 35 years old) and older (57 – 82 years old) group of adults. Participants were exposed to stereotype-related words in the context of another task (scrambled sentence, word judgment) in order to prime positive and negative stereotypes of aging. This involved either words reflecting negative stereotypes about aging (brittle, complaining, confused, cranky, feeble, forgot, senile, etc.) or words reflecting positive views of aging (accomplished, active, alert, dignified, distinguished, knowledgeable, successful, etc.)

Results show memory performance in older adults was lower when they were primed with negative stereotypes than when they were primed with positive stereotypes. In addition, age differences in memory between young and older adults were significantly reduced following a positive stereotype prime, with young and older adults performing at almost identical levels in some situations.

The study also provides evidence that older adults can control the effect of negative stereotype activation but only when the primes are relatively subtle. In contrast, when the stereotype primes are relatively blatant, memory performance tends to be negatively affected.

The results of this study add to a growing list of findings that implicate the importance of the social environment in how it affects older peoples' memory performance, according to the authors. If older people are treated like they are competent, productive members of society, then they perform that way too.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A heart monitor the size of a paperclip that can save your life. The “Reveal Linq” allows a doctor to monitor patients with A-Fib on a continuous basis for up to 3 years! Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins