Title page for ETD etd-07082010-215028

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Denver, Jenny
URN etd-07082010-215028
Title Ageism and Psychological Well-Being in Older Adults
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cherry, Katie Committee Chair
Allen, Priscilla Committee Member
Grobman, Kevin Committee Member
Lane, Sean Committee Member
Lawrence, Frances Dean's Representative
  • older adulthood
  • psychological well-being
  • ageism
Date of Defense 2010-06-15
Availability unrestricted
Despite being faced with difficulties such as declining physical health and negative stereotypes, older adults are often able to maintain a positive sense of well-being in the face of such challenges (Mroczek & Kolarz, 1998). This finding is known as the paradox of well-being. The present study examined this phenomenon as it relates to the experience of ageism, reactions to aging as interpreted through identity process theory, and psychological well-being. The study is an exploratory examination of these factors in a sample of 137 community-dwelling older adults. It was hypothesized that 1) a greater experience of ageism would be associated with declines in psychological well-being, 2) at least one identity processing style would be associated with declines in psychological well-being, and 3) participantsí experience of ageism and favored identity processing style would be associated with different outcomes for psychological well-being. Results indicated that the majority of participants reported fairly low experiences of ageism. Ageism scores were not related to any of the dimensions of psychological well-being. As predicted, participantsí use of the identity balance processing style was positively related with all dimensions of well-being, while use of the identity accommodation processing style was negatively related with all of the dimensions. It was not possible to examine the interaction between the experience of ageism and identity processing styles because of the low experience of ageism within the present sample. These results contribute to the relatively small body of research on identity process theory and represent one of the first attempts to examine the relationships among ageism, identity process theory, and psychological well-being.
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