College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Perceiving a negative event as central to one's identity partially mediates age differences in PTSD symptoms

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2012

Publication Title

Journal of Aging and Health

ISSN

0898-2643

Volume

24

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Older adults report fewer posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms than younger adults, but the reasons for this age difference are unclear. In the current study, the authors explored the extent to which they may be due to age differences in event centrality (the extent to which a person construes a stressful event as central to their identity).

METHOD:

A sample of older and younger adults nominated their most stressful event and completed measures of PTSD symptoms and event centrality.

RESULTS:

The results revealed that older adults were less likely to construe a stressful event as central to identity, even after controlling for type of event, how long ago the event occurred, and gender. In addition, the results of a mediation analysis indicated that age-related differences in event centrality partially mediated age-related differences in PTSD symptoms.

DISCUSSION:

The results are consistent with the Socioemotional Selectivity Theory view that older adults tend to use cognitive strategies designed to protect emotional health.

DOI

10.1177/0898264311425089

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Peer Reviewed

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