Regulatory focus and perceptions of ageing: exploring the connections

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Fawsitt, Feargus
Dockray, Samantha
Setti, Annalisa
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Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group
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Objectives:Perceptions of ageing can become a self-fulfilling prophecy for older adults, with those who hold more negative views of ageing experiencing more negative consequences of the ageing process, including poorer health and cognitive declines. Exposure to negative stereotypes about their group can also affect older adults performance in cognitive tests, as they are more likely to adopt a prevention focus to avoid mistakes, therefore, performing poorly in tasks requiring them to adopt a gains-oriented focus. Based on regulatory focus theory, we hypothesised that negative perceptions of ageing and stereotype threat may be connected, specifically we hypothesised that those with more negative perceptions of ageing would also have a stronger trait prevention focus.Method: Two hundred adults aged 60+ took part in an online questionnaire examining their perceptions of ageing and their trait regulatory focus.Results and Conclusion: Results indicated that negative perceptions of ageing were predictive of a stronger trait prevention focus in a hierarchical multiple regression model. This provides evidence that older adults with more negative perceptions of ageing may adopt a stronger prevention focus, potentially influencing psychological attitudes to everyday tasks and behaviours. Perceptions of ageing and regulatory focus can have implications for the efficacy of health messaging for older adults.
Perceptions of ageing , Regulatory focus , Stereotype threat
Fawsitt, F., Dockray, S. and Setti, A. (2021) 'Regulatory focus and perceptions of ageing: exploring the connections', Aging and Mental Health. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2021.1952550
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© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an item published by Taylor & Francis in Aging and Mental Health on 20 July 2021, available online: