DO POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EMOTIONS PREDICT OLDER ADULT WELL-BEING? PROSPECTIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH, SOCIAL FUNCTIONING AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS IN A NATIONALLY REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE

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Date
2018
Authors
Hunt, Carly Ann
Advisor
Hoffman, Mary Ann
Citation
Abstract
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in older American adults. To improve both individual and population cardiovascular health (CVH), the American Heart Association (2016) has emphasized the concept of ideal cardiovascular health, which involves achieving ideal levels on several health factors (e.g., blood pressure) and health behaviors (e.g., exercise engagement). Using nationally representative data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) survey, the present study explored whether positive affect (PA) relates to ideal CVH in 1266 adults followed over a 20-year period, above and beyond the effects of negative affect (NA). At present, the relative contributions of PA and NA on CVH remain unclear. The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion posits that PA supports health by 1) broadening one’s repertoire of adaptive behaviors and 2) building personal resources, which could be psychological, physical, or social. From this perspective, CVH was explored as a physical resource that may build in conjunction with and following. Analyses also explored the extent to which PA predicts a broadening of behaviors relevant to CVH and healthy aging (i.e., volunteerism) and a building of psychological resources tied with CVH and healthy aging (i.e., positive reappraisal, or the tendency to locate positive meaning during times of loss and difficulty). Linear growth models were used to examine initial levels and change trajectories in outcomes, and post-hoc analyses were conducted using multiple linear regression modeling. Collectively, results suggest that PA is irrelevant for CVH and provide support for the well-established detrimental effects of NA on CVH. PA did not associate with volunteerism, and NA predicted lower volunteer engagement on average at the 20-year follow-up. PA, and not NA, supported positive reappraisal use. Results also provide evidence of the well-documented detrimental effects of socioeconomic and racial disadvantage on CVH. Implications for further research are discussed.
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