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Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How Perceptions of Aging Affect Our Later Years

“Whether you think you can,
or you think you can’t—you’re right.”

– Henry Ford

Perceptions of aging, or attitudes toward one’s own aging, have important implications for the health and well-being of older adults. Throughout the life span, people encounter many positive and negative stereotypes of older adults and the aging process. Some stereotypes portray common age-related changes, whereas others promote misconceptions about aging. As people grow older, age stereotypes become increasingly self-relevant; these stereotypes are reflected inward and they become incorporated into older adults’ self perceptions of aging.

THE PERCEPTIONS OF AGING LENS

Perceptions of aging can be thought of as a lens that shapes how older adults interpret their daily experiences and establish cause-and-effect explanations for events. For instance, older adulthood can be viewed as a time of continued development and learning (positive perception of aging) or as a time of physical and mental decline (negative perception of aging). Self-perceptions of aging tend to influence thoughts and behaviors without people being consciously aware that this is happening.

Imagine that two older adults, Diane and Nora, slipped on an icy sidewalk and they each sprained an ankle. Throughout her recovery, Diane diligently completed physical therapy, eager to return to full strength and resume her normal daily activities. Her mobility was limited for a while, but Diane took this opportunity to catch up on some books that she wanted to read and she learned new ways to keep in touch with family and friends on her tablet. When Nora fell, she knew that life was just going to get worse from there. Nora didn’t really see the point of the rehabilitation exercises, because she didn’t believe that a full recovery was possible. It was difficult to get around, so Nora started to keep to herself more and she stopped taking her regular walks even after her ankle was healed. Diane made a full recovery, but Nora’s physical health continued to decline because she never returned to the same level of activity. Despite experiencing the same injury, Diane’s and Nora’s perceptions of aging influenced how they responded to the injury and led to a very different chain of events.

OUTCOMES RELATED TO PERCEPTIONS OF AGING

The story above illustrates how self-perceptions of aging can create self fulfilling prophecies leading to long-term consequences for the well-being of older adults. Researchers have found Self-perceptions of aging tend to influence thoughts and behaviors without people being consciously aware that this is happening.

Negative perceptions of aging have harmful consequences for older adults’ bodies, minds, and healthy behaviors, as outlined below:

Longevity. In a 23-year study, older adults who reported more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than older adults with more negative self-perceptions of aging . Additional research supports this connection between perceptions of aging and longevity, leading the researchers to conclude that “…those who develop positive perceptions of aging over the life course enter late life with a distinct advantage that may be protective against negative consequences of health change”.

Illness. In a study of 1,286 people (average age of 57 at baseline), participants who indicated that aging is a time of continued learning and development reported decreases (or slower increases) in physical illnesses six years later . In contrast, participants in the same study who believed that aging is a time of physical loss displayed increases in physical illness over six years.

Functional Health. Older adults with more positive perceptions of aging report better future functional health, such as the ability to do household chores and climb stairs, compared to older adults with more negative perceptions of aging. Consistent with these findings, older adults with more negative perceptions of aging displayed greater limitations in activities of daily living (e.g., feeding, bathing) and instrumental activities of daily living (e.g., shopping, managing finances) three years later. None of those participants reported any limitations at the beginning of the study (ages 65 to 70).

Brain Health. Compared to people with more positive views of aging, people who endorsed more negative age stereotypes displayed greater signs of risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease when their brains were examined decades later. The hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory, decreased in size at a faster rate and there was an increased presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Psychological Well-Being. Older adults with more negative perceptions of aging reported greater increases in depressive symptoms three years later, but high levels of optimism helped protect against this effect. The researchers concluded that positive emotions and optimism may help buffer the harmful effects of negative perceptions of aging. In another study, positive perceptions of aging contributed to better self-reported health and life satisfaction six years later, even for participants who reported a serious health event.

Healthy Behaviors. Older adults with more positive perceptions of aging tend to engage in more preventive health behaviors and physical activity compared to older adults with more negative perceptions of aging. For example, older adults with positive self-perceptions of aging reported engaging in more preventive health behaviors over 20 years. Evidence also links negative perceptions of aging with declines in walking speed two years later. Furthermore, older adults with more positive views of aging reported more frequent walking and sporting activities.

Overall, these findings support the conclusion that perceptions of aging create self-fulfilling prophecies. Older adults who associate aging with ongoing growth and pursuit of meaningful activities are more likely to engage in behaviors and view experiences in adaptive ways. As a result, these beneficial thought and behavior patterns further reinforce older adults’ positive perceptions of aging.

Older adults with positive self-perceptions of aging
reported engaging in more preventive health behaviors
over 20 years.

 

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS OF AGING

Changing perceptions of aging is a challenging issue, because it involves both individual perceptions of aging as well as age stereotypes that are conveyed at societal and cultural levels. Kotter-Grühn (2015) identified several strategies that could be effective at improving perceptions of aging. For example, at a societal level, increasing the presence of older adults in the media and reducing the use of age stereotypes could improve perceptions of aging. In addition, creating more opportunities for intergenerational interactions could help people develop more realistic expectations of aging. Finally, older adults could develop more positive perceptions of aging by learning more about the aging process—correcting misconceptions and increasing awareness of positive age-related changes.

Changing older adults’ expectations related to aging can lead to important behavioral changes. Here are two examples of research studies that increased physical activity in older adults through an intervention designed to improve their perceptions of aging:

  • Example 1. Older adults completed a four-week course designed to change their expectations that people become less active with age. Instructors taught that sedentariness is not a natural part of aging and there are things that the participants can do to control their physical activity levels. Participants also attended an exercise class after each meeting. Three weeks after the last session, participants reported more positive expectations about aging and they also walked approximately 2.5 miles more each week (compared to before the course). In addition, participants reported decreases in limitations to activities of daily living and increases in mental health.
  • Example 2. This study expanded upon a typical physical activity intervention by adding in two behavior change techniques aimed at changing perceptions of aging research-based information on common misconceptions about aging and the connection between positive perceptions of aging and health outcomes; and guidance on how to recognize and counter negative automatic thoughts. Participants who completed this intervention displayed more positive views of aging (e.g., greater satisfaction and optimism related to aging) and increases in physical activity compared to other participants who completed a standard physical activity intervention or who spent time volunteering (the control condition).

If negative perceptions of aging are preventing people from enrolling in programs, positive aging messages may need to be conveyed in recruitment materials or earlier.

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS IN YOUR COMMUNITY

When developing or implementing a program to encourage healthy behaviors, it is important to consider how older adults’ perceptions of aging may influence their thoughts and behaviors. Based on the research described above, here are four recommendations for how to promote more positive perceptions of aging during programs for older adults:

  1.   Identify older adults’ age-related expectations about their ability to complete or benefit from the program. How do the expectations of people with positive perceptions of aging differ from people with more negative views? Keep an eye out for differences in feelings of control and beliefs about the possibility of change.
  2.   Develop communications to counter negative perceptions of aging. Start by focusing on the gap between the positive and negative expectations. Is accurate information needed? Do you need to encourage different patterns of thought? Keep the message targeted to information relevant to the specific healthy behavior that is being promoted.
  3.   Incorporate the message into your program. If negative perceptions of aging are preventing people from enrolling in programs, positive aging messages may need to be conveyed in recruitment materials or earlier.
  4.   Measure the effectiveness of the message. If possible, assess key program outcomes before and after introducing the positive aging messages. Depending on the program, outcomes could include enrollment rates, completion rates, behavior change, attitude change, knowledge attained, and satisfaction levels.

People are often unaware of the extent to which their views of aging shape their expectations and actions. Creating more positive perceptions of aging can motivate people to engage in healthy behaviors. The benefits gained as a result of these healthy behaviors further reinforces positive perceptions of aging and encourages people along the path to wellness.

 

REFERENCES
Kotter-Grühn, D. (2015). Changing negative views of aging:Implications for intervention and translational research.
Annual Review of Gerontology & Geriatrics, 35, 167-186. 
Levy, B. (2009). Stereotype embodiment: A psychosocial approach to aging. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 332-336.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How Perceptions of Aging Affect Our Later Years Levy, B. R., Ferrucci, L., Zonderman, A. B., Slade, M. D., Troncoso, J., & Resnick, S. M. (2016). A culture–brain link: Negative age stereotypes predict Alzheimer’s Disease biomarkers. Psychology and Aging, 31, 82- 88.
Levy, B. R., & Myers, L. M. (2004). Preventive health behaviors influenced by self-perceptions of aging. Preventive Medicine, 39, 625-629.
Levy, B. R., Slade, M. D., & Kasl, S. V. (2002). Longitudinal benefit of positive self-perceptions of aging on functional health. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, 409-417. Levy, B. R., Slade, M. R., Kunkel, S. R., & Kasl, S. V. (2002).
Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 261-270.
Moser, C., Spagnoli, J., & Santos-Eggimann, B. (2011). Self-perception of aging and vulnerability to adverse outcomes at the age of 65-70 years.
The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 6, 675-680.
Robertson, D. A., Savva, G. M., King-Kallimanis, B. L., & Kenny, R. A. (2015). Negative perceptions of aging and decline in walking speed: A self-fulfilling prophecy. PLoS ONE, 10, e0123260. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123260
Sargent-Cox, K. A., Anstey, K. J., & Luszcz, M. A. (2014). Longitudinal change of self-perceptions of aging and mortality. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 69, 168-173.
Sarkisian, C. A., Prohaska, T. R., Davis, C., & Weiner, B. (2007). Pilot test of an attribution retraining intervention to raise walking levels in sedentary older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 55, 1842-1846. Wolff, J. K., Warner, L. M., Ziegelmann, J. P., & Wurm, S. (2014).
What do targeting positive views on ageing add to a physical activity intervention in older adults? Results from a randomised controlled trial.
Psychology & Health, 29, 915-932. Wurm, S., & Benyamini, Y. (2014). Optimism buffers the detrimental effect of negative self-perceptions of ageing on physical and mental health. Psychology & Health, 29, 832-848. Wurm, S., Tesch-Römer, C., & Tomasik, M. J. (2007). Longitudinal findings on aging-related cognitions, control beliefs, and health in later life. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 62B, 156-164.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How Perceptions of Aging Affect Our Later Years Wurm, S., Tomasik, M. J., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2008). Serious health events and their impact on changes in subjective health and life satisfaction: The role of age and a positive view on aging. European
Journal of Ageing, 5, 117-127. Wurm, S., Tomasik, M. J., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2010). On the importance of a positive view on ageing for physical exercise among middle-aged and older adults: Cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. Psychology and Health, 25, 25-42.

 

By Jennifer L. Smith, PhD, Senior Research Manager    Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Clinomania is the excessive desire to lay in bed all day.

  • Your shoes are the first thing people subconsciously notice about you.

  • People don’t listen to the smartest person in the room, they listen to whoever acts as if they know what’s right, according to a study.
  • The older you get, the less people you trust.
Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Stephen Hawking was told that he had two years to live by doctors back in 1963. Today, he’s alive and is 72-years-old.

  • 71% of breakups happen because of mood swings.

 

 

  • Banana is a happy fruit. Eating just one can help relieve irritable emotions, anger and or depression.

  • It only takes one lie to completely change a person’s perception of who you are.

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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Fun Fact Friday

    • Washing your hands makes you more optimistic.

    • 11% of the world is left-handed.

    • It takes 5 different parts of your brain for you to understand and laugh at a joke.

    • Our brains have a negativity bias and will remember negative memories more than good ones. This helps us to better protect ourselves.

  • It’s ok and “I’m fine” are the two most common lies spoken in the world.

  • A protein in human saliva called histatin can help wounds heal faster.

  • A beautiful face attracts more partners than a beautiful body, according to a scientific survey.

  • Single people tend to be less selfish than married people, according to new research.



Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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9 New Facts About Attraction We Learned in 2016

Do opposites attract? The kind of people who have more sex. Why men shouldn’t try to sound sexy, and more…

1. Opposites only attract when people are single

When people are single they are more attracted to faces that are dissimilar to their own, new research finds.

But, when people are already in a relationship, they are more attracted to faces that look similar to their own.

In other words: opposites attract for single people, but not for those in a relationship.

The reason that dissimilar faces attract could be down to avoiding incest or other people with similar genes.

2. Altruism linked to having more sex

People who help others out have more sex, new research concludes.

The more altruistic people are, the more sexual partners they have and the more frequently they have sex.

Could it be, then, that being nice to other people is the ultimate aphrodisiac?

Who would have thought it?

3. The weight change required to increase attractivity

The face can reveal whether our weight has changed, but how much is required for others to see it?

Dr Nicholas Rule, co-author of a new study on the subject, explains:

“Women and men of average height need to gain or lose about three and a half and four kilograms, or about eight and nine pounds, respectively, for anyone to see it in their face, but they need to lose about twice as much for anyone to find them more attractive.”

 

4. Men should NOT try to ‘sound sexy’

Women have no trouble changing their voice to make it sound more sexy, but men have no clue.

Women lower the pitch of their voice and make it sound more breathy — which men find more attractive.

Dr Hughes said men found it difficult to sound sexy:

“In fact, although not significantly, it got a bit worse when men tried to sound sexy.”

The reason for the differences could be down to practice, the researchers think.

Men do not really focus on making their voice sound sexier, but women do.

couple

5. Uncertainty is key to attraction

Women are more attracted to men when they are uncertain of his feelings.

So the old dating advice about ‘playing hard-to-get’ may have some scientific basis.

It all comes down to how much we are thinking about the other person.

The study’s authors write:

“When people first meet, it may be that popular dating advice is correct: Keeping people in the dark about how much we like them will increase how much they think about us and will pique their interest.”

 

6. Beards signal long-term relationships

Women judge fully bearded men to be a better bet for long-term relationships.

This might be because it makes men look more ‘formidable’.

Certainly, beards make men look older and more aggressive.

Beards are also often judged to make men look like they have higher social status.

However, for short-term relationships, women judge stubble to be most attractive, the new research found.

7. Left cheeks are more attractive

Believe it or not, our cheeks were not created equal in attractiveness or emotional expression.

People’s left cheeks are generally seen as more attractive than their right, a psychology study has found.

It may be because people tend to show more emotion with their left cheek than their right.

The reason could be down to how emotions are processed in the brain.

8. Mixed race faces are most attractive

Mixed-race faces are consistently seen as the most attractive when compared with black and white faces.

The finding is dramatic among the most attractive people, writes Dr Michael Lewis, the study’s author:

“…40% of the faces in the experiment were mixed race but among the top 10% most attractive faces this proportion increased to 65%.
Of the top 5% most attractive faces, 74% were mixed race…
…people whose genetic backgrounds are more diverse are, on average, perceived as more attractive than those whose backgrounds are less diverse.”

 

9. The group changes how attractive you look

How attractive you look depends on the attractiveness of the people around you, new research finds.

An average-looking person is rated as more attractive when surrounded by unappealing faces.

Dr Nicholas Furl, the study’s author, said:

“Last year’s film The Duff, – an acronym for the rather unfortunate and unfair term ‘Designated Ugly Fat Friend’ explored how the main character felt being physically compared to her friendship group.
As in life, this film showed that how we perceive beauty and attractiveness isn’t fixed.”

 

source: PsyBlog


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11 Ways Men And Women Think Differently

Men and women are different. There are some good biological reasons for that. Studies of brain scans of men and women show that women tend to use both sides of their brain because they have a larger corpus callosum. This is the bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain and allows women to share information between those two halves of the brain faster than men. Men tend to use the left side of the brain which is the more logical and rational side of the brain. Scans also reveal other interesting ways in which men and women do things differently or process information differently from each other.

HERE ARE 11 WAYS MEN AND WOMEN THINK DIFFERENTLY:

1. PERCEPTION
Women have smaller brains that are more tightly packed with connections. This allows them to perform better at tasks involving the bigger picture and situational thinking. A man’s brain tends to perform better at spatial thinking involving recognizing patterns and problem solving with objects in a spatial environment.

2. ONE TRACK MIND
Men tend to excel better at singular tasks while women are better at juggling a number of tasks at once. This may stem from the primordial male role of the hunter who is fixated on a singular objective while the traditional female role of manager of the home forced her to juggle many tasks simultaneously.

3. SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
Women tend to perform better in social situations than men do. Men tend to excel at more abstract thinking and task-oriented jobs. Again, this may stem from the traditional gender roles whereby women had to work together to accomplish more complex tasks while men spent more time alone stalking prey.

4. DEALING WITH EMOTIONS
Women have a larger limbic system in their brains which allows them to be more in touch and expressive about their emotions. Men tend to be a little oblivious with emotions that are not explicitly verbalized. Men tend to be more logical in their thinking and dismiss information that is not directly involved with the issue they are tackling. Women tend to be much more empathetic and susceptible to emotions influencing their thinking.

5. DO THE MATH
Men tend to have larger inferior parietal lobules than women. This area of the brain is thought to control mathematical ability and processes. Men tend to do better with math because of this. This isn’t to say that there are not women who are great at math, but that men have a small biological advantage when it comes to math and logic based skills.

men women

6. DEALING WITH PAIN
The amygdala is the area of the brain responsible for pain. Pain is activated in either the right (men) or left (women) hemispheres. The right side is more connected with external stimuli, while the left is more connected to internal stimuli. Women tend to feel pain more intensely than men do because of this.

7. LEARN LANGUAGES
Women tend to be better at learning languages and are more attuned to words and sounds. This may be why men tend to find it harder to express themselves verbally. It may stem from the increased demand on women over millions of years to cooperate and organize in order to manage large complex tasks.

8. WOMEN REMEMBER BETTER
Women have tend to have higher activity in their hippocampus, the region responsible for forming and storing memories, than men do. Studies have shown that women tend to remember faces, names, objects and events better than men.

9. ASK FOR DIRECTIONS
Men tend to have better spatial-reasoning skills and are better at remembering geographic details. They tend to have a better innate sense of direction and remember where areas and locations are. This ability most likely stems from their days as hunters when men had to navigate long distances without the aid of a map and compass.

10. RISK TAKING
Men tend to be more likely to take risks. Women tend to be more risk averse. Men get a bigger dose of endorphins when they take risks. The bigger the risk, the larger the pleasure derived from the risky behavior. Men may be specialized to take more risks because of early human’s need to hunt down food which may be larger, stronger and more dangerous than a single man. Hunting is also inherently dangerous as some predator may be stalking you while you are stalking another prey animal.

11. SEX
Men tend to be more visual in what arouses them, while women tend to be turned on by a combination of things like ambiance, emotions, scents as well as visual perceptions.

While equal, men and women have different biological strengths and weaknesses. These differences may stem from a very long period of specialization between genders. Humans have been hunter/gatherers much longer than we have been civilized farmers and tradesmen. This long period of adaptation to changing environments may be responsible in some small part for traditional gender roles based on biology and physical specialization. Men and women, while different, are complementary like a knife and a fork.

SOURCES:
HTTP://WWW.FITBRAIN.COM/BLOG/WOMEN-MEN-BRAINS/
HTTP://WWW.WEBMD.COM/BRAIN/FEATURES/HOW-MALE-FEMALE-BRAINS-DIFFER#2
 


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Fun Fact Friday

  • 80% of the time, it’s not that a person changed…. you just never knew who they actually were. 
  • The average amount of time a woman can keep a secret is 47 hours and 15 minutes.
  • A human adult is made up of about 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms.
  • Lack of sleep causes the brain to remember events incorrectly.
insomnia

 

  • The male brain is 10% bigger than the female’s but the female brain works more efficiently.
  • Because the English language is so complex, every day the average person will create a sentence that has never been said before.
  • In the next 30 seconds, you will, on average, produce 72 million red blood cells, shed 174,000 skin cells, and have 25 thoughts.
  • Most people dream in color, but those that grew up watching black and white television often dream in black and white.

Happy Friday  
🙂

source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact