TitlePossible selves and depressive symptoms in later life.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBolkan, C, Hooker, K, Coehlo, D
JournalResearch on aging
Date Published2015 Jan
KeywordsRisk Factors

The pursuit of personal goals has been linked to general psychological well-being; however, less is known about the association with depression in later adulthood when individuals are contending with age-related changes in health and social relationships. We explored the connection between both health- and social related goals (as measured by possible selves) and depressive symptoms in a sample of 85 community-dwelling older adults who ranged in age from 60 to 92 (M = 74, standard deviation = 7.5). Participants took part in face-to-face, semistructured interviews in which they responded to measures of possible selves (future images of oneself), health, and depressive symptoms. We found that the presence of health-related, but not social-related, possible selves was significantly associated with fewer reported depressive symptoms. Additionally, the presence of health-related fears was specifically linked to fewer reported depressive symptoms. These findings suggested that the promotion of and investment in health-related personal goals may be useful in off-setting depressive symptoms in older adults, as well as indicated a potential benefit of a disease prevention focus regarding health in later life. Finally, the results may have implications for potential clinical interventions in addressing late-life depression.