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Title: The role of the past in adaptation to old age
Author: Coleman, Peter George
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1972
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This study consists of an inquiry into whether reminiscing and related characteristics, notably the concept of life reviewing, appear adaptive features of the aging process, as has been suggested in the recent literature. The attempt was made to produce more thorough evidence for this question than previous studies, firstly by obtaining more individually sensitive measures of losses incurred in old age, and using person subjective but carefully monitored indices of adjustment. The analysis was performed on forty eight subjects (aged 68 - 92 yrs. of mean age 80 yrs.) living alone in sheltered housing accommodation in five London boroughs. Reminiscing, life reviewing, and use of the past in general attitudinal and informative conversation were quantified by obtaining one hour recordings of the subjects' conversations with the author in a naturalistic setting and performing a rigorous procedure of analysis on the transcripts of same. Reliability over time was demonstrated for each of the categories. Affect of reminiscing was also noted and a measure obtained of satisfaction with past life. Subjects were rated as well on their conversation over the whole time period of visiting (averaging six visits per person over two years). An examination of the results revealed that life reviewing, defined in this study by the willingness of the subject in his reminiscing to engage in interpretations and evaluations of his past self and expressions of his past subjective states, did indeed appear related to adjustment for subjects who indicated dissatisfaction with their past lives. Past life satisfaction and affect of reminiscing emerged as general adaptive factors, independent of any effect of presently incurred loss upon them. An ability to reminisce when provoked seems to be an adaptive characteristic of old age, and avoidance of an unpleasant past a maladaptive one.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Aging