TitleSelf-Perceptions of Aging Moderate Associations of Within- and Between-Persons Perceived Stress and Physical Health Symptoms.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsWitzel, DD, Turner, SG, Hooker, K
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published12/2021

OBJECTIVES: To examine how self-perceptions of aging (SPA) moderated within- and between-persons perceived stress associations with physical health symptoms.

METHOD: A community-dwelling sample of 103 adults (Meanage=63, Range=52-88) participated in an online microlongitudinal study for 100 days (Noccasions=7,064). Participants completed baseline surveys consisting of self-perceptions of aging, social connections, and demographics followed by 100 daily surveys including information about daily stress perceptions and physical health. Utilizing generalized multilevel models, we examined whether daily fluctuations and average levels of perceived stress over 100 days impacted physical health symptoms and whether these associations varied by SPA.

RESULTS: Adults who had higher perceived stress, on average across 100 days, reported significantly more physical health symptoms compared to individuals with lower perceived stress on average (p<.05). On days when individuals reported higher perceived stress than their own average, they had a higher likelihood of reporting more physical health symptoms compared to days when their perceived stress was lower than their own average (p<.05). Further, SPA significantly moderated associations between both within- and between-persons perceived stress and physical health symptoms (ps<.05). Individuals with more positive SPA were less impacted by high levels of perceived stress - both on average and on days when perceived stress was higher than their own average.

DISCUSSION: More positive SPA significantly dampened the impact of perceived stress suggesting the importance of SPA as an individual characteristic within stress processes. Future work should examine how daily changes in SPA may exacerbate or mitigate the impacts of daily stress processes and health outcomes.

Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
PubMed ID34888645