The Contribution of Self-discrepancy in the Relationship between Role Loss and Well-being in Older Adults



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The purpose of the study is to investigate how older adults adjust to getting older and the losses that come with aging. This study examines how E.T. Higgins's theory of self-discrepancy mediates the relationship between role loss and subjective well-being. Subjective well-being (SWB) is defined as overall life satisfaction, the presence of positive affect and the absence of negative affect. This hypothesis, grounded in both self-discrepancy and life span developmental theory, is that the level of discrepancy between the actual and ideal self mediates the relationship between role losses and mental health. This study examined three models with each investigating how self-discrepancy mediates the relationship between role loss and a different outcome variable for each model: positive affect, negative affect, and satisfaction with life. The sample consisted of adults over the age of 60 living in both community and institutional settings. Several path analyses models were run to examine the tenability of the hypotheses within the three models. This study did not support any of its hypotheses of the indirect and direct effects mediation models with the outcome variables of positive affect, negative affect and satisfaction with life scale. However, it did show support for the self-discrepancy theory. Consistent with the theory, this study showed that those reporting more self-discrepancy reported less satisfaction with life, less positive affect, and more negative affect. This study also showed levels of SWB in non-clinical samples of older adults. This study supported the idea that more self-discrepancy is related to lower levels of SWB. This is important in a clinical setting to know for treatment of older adults suggesting that clinicians help their clients work towards less self-discrepancy and in turn, greater SWB.