Broad objectives. The main objective is to describe and explain the relationship between age and changes in the sense of control over one's life.
Specific aims. Two cross-sectional pilot surveys (One Illinois, one U.S.) show that the average sense of control declines at an accelerating rate in successively older age groups. The proposed study will measure changes in the sense of control over a follow-up period, correlate the changes with age, and test hypotheses about the form and components of the association. The main hypotheses are: (I)over a period of time, the sense of control declines by an amount that increases with age; (II) the change in sense of control reflects an underlying change in biosocial function, which declines more rapidly with age; (III) higher social status slows the decline in the sense of control, possibly by preserving biosocial function; (IV) the lower the sense of control at the beginning of a period, the more it drops over the period, so the decrease gets steeper with age, and (V) changes in biosocial function and in the sense of control have deviation-amplifying reciprocal effects that accelerate age- dependent changes in the sense of control. Health relatedness. If Rodin's theory of aging dynamics is correct, a sense of control over one's life increases active participation and improves emotional well-being and physical function, which in turn bolsters the sense of control. Emotional well-being and physical function are health factors themselves, and they decrease subsequent morbidity and mortality. Study design and methods. The study will survey a national sample of persons ages 18 and over. Respondents will be selected at random, interviewed by telephone, and interviewed again three years later. The probability of being sampled will increase with age, to ensure an adequate sample of older persons. The analysis will specify models that test the hypotheses and address technical issues (correlated error, non-random attrition, and interactions or polynomials in structural equation models).

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 3 (HUD)
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Ohio State University
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Mirowsky, John (2013) Depression and the sense of control: aging vectors, trajectories, and trends. J Health Soc Behav 54:407-25
Mirowsky, John (2011) Cognitive decline and the default American lifestyle. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 66 Suppl 1:i50-8
Mirowsky, John; Ross, Catherine E (2007) Creative work and health. J Health Soc Behav 48:385-403
Ross, Catherine E; Mirowsky, John (2006) Sex differences in the effect of education on depression: resource multiplication or resource substitution? Soc Sci Med 63:1400-13
Mirowsky, John (2005) Age at first birth, health, and mortality. J Health Soc Behav 46:32-50
Ross, Catherine E; Mirowsky, John (2002) Family relationships, social support and subjective life expectancy. J Health Soc Behav 43:469-89
Drentea, Patricia (2002) Retirement and mental health. J Aging Health 14:167-94
Mirowsky, John; Ross, Catherine E (2002) Depression, parenthood, and age at first birth. Soc Sci Med 54:1281-98
Mirowsky, J; Ross, C E (2001) Age and the effect of economic hardship on depression. J Health Soc Behav 42:132-50
Ross, C E; Mirowsky, J (2000) Does medical insurance contribute to socioeconomic differentials in health? Milbank Q 78:291-321, 151-2

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