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Title: Investigating how perception of time left in life effects information processing and goal orientated behaviours in older adults : using socioemotional selectivity theory
Author: Zia, Mohammed Wajid
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2011
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Background/Aims: Socioemotional Selectivity Theory (SST) is an emerging theory of lifespan development, implicating adaptive motivational processes with ageing. SST maintains that age is inherently linked with future time perspective (FTP). It argues that when people perceive time in life as expansive, typically in youth, individuals tend to prepare for the future, investing time and energy in Future and Knowledge-oriented goals. Increasingly with age FTP is more limited, consequently individuals prioritise Present and Emotion -oriented goals, aimed at mood regulation. This study has three aims. The first is to test the key tenets of SST within a single study; examining motivational shifts associated with FTP and ageing, within the framework of two bipolar dimensions (Present-Future and Knowledge-Emotion). The second aim is to develop and introduce the use of vignettes as a novel means to test SST assumptions. The final aim is to engage a culturally diverse sample in order to test the key assumptions and validity of SST across two cultures, Anglo British and Asian British. Method: Participants included 64 healthy older people, aged between 60 to 89 years. Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) were used to screen for cognitive impairment and depression. Participants aged 60-74 (n = 41) were allocated to the "young old" (Y/O) group and 75 years and above (n = 23) were assigned to the "old old" (O/O) group. Cultural differences were looked at between the Asian British (n - 30) and Anglo British (n = 34) participants. The eight goal-oriented vignettes, four Present-Future and four Emotion-Knowledge, were constructed and examined within a small pilot study, prior to their implementation within the main study. Perception of time left in life was assessed using Carstensen and Lang's (1996) Future Time Perspective Scale (FTPS) and an estimation of time left (ETL). Results and Conclusion: The study found that the Y/O group exhibited a more expansive FTP and a significant bias for Future and Knowledge goal-oriented information within the vignettes. Conversely, O/O participants reported a more constrained FTP and favoured Present and Emotion goal-oriented information. These associations were evident in both cultural groups suggesting that the assumptions of SST are robust and valid across cultures. FTP was found to be significantly associated with the Present-Future and Knowledge- Emotion goal-oriented dimensions, even when the effect of age was controlled for. This supports SST's assumption that perception of time, rather than age is the key modulator for individual's goal orientation. Overall, SST assumptions were shown to be robust and valid across both cultural groups. Some differences did emerge between cultures, as age appeared to be less predictive of an individuals' FTP within Asian British relative to Anglo British group. Results also indicated that FTP may be a better predictor of the Knowledge to Emotion motivational shift within the Asian British, rather than the Anglo British sample. The strength and patterns of associations within the study suggests that the vignettes are a suitable methodological approach for testing SST assumptions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available