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Weitzel, faculty; Judith K.

Handbook of Stressful Transitions Across the Lifespan

Carney, occupational therapist; Richard Welsh, professor; and Emily Rosenbaum, alumna. Schreiber, doctoral candidate; and Sherry Warden, associate professor. College of Social Work — James J. College of Education — Jeanine M. College of Arts and Sciences — David T. Miller, alumnus, Barbara L. Participants were then recruited via an invitation letter, followed by a telephone to explain the study. Participants who were interested in the study filled out a questionnaire on their social motivation and other constructs not relevant in the present context.

Approximately a week later, they started the diary part of the study with 14 consecutive questionnaires.

Effects of time since move and age will be reported for all analyses. If not noted otherwise, responses were given on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from 0 strongly disagree to 6 strongly agree. Participants reported their birthdate. Age was calculated as a difference between their birthdate and the first measurement time point assessing social approach and avoidance motives. We used the Affiliation Tendency and Sensitivity to Rejection Scale Mehrabian, ; German version in Sokolowski, to assess social approach and avoidance motives. These scales consist of 50 self-descriptive statements portraying typical social behavior and experience.

Although widely used in younger samples, to our knowledge this was the first time this questionnaire was used with older adults. Reliability analyses in the older sample revealed three items that loaded negatively on the rejection sensitivity scale and one item that loaded negatively on the affiliation tendency scale in the older sample. The assessment of the quantity of social encounters was based on the Rochester Interaction Record Reis and Wheeler, The mere presence of another person was not included in this definition. Pleasantness of social interactions.

The same items assessed positive and negative behavior of others. Negative cognitions about social relationships and interactions. Four aspects of subjective well-being were assessed: physical well-being, emotional well-being, loneliness, satisfaction with the move.

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The short version of the MDMF consists of 12 adjectives that can be aggregated into a score reflecting emotional well-being. Bivariate correlations of all assessed constructs aggregated over the 2 weeks of the diary phase are presented in Table 2. Table 2. Bivariate correlations among the diary constructs at aggregated daily level. To test the hypotheses of age and social motives as predictors of daily experience and behavior, we ran multilevel analyses with age, time since move, and approach and avoidance motives centered as predictors.

Age was introduced as a dummy variable with 0 young adults and 1 older adults. We analyzed the data with the linear mixed-models procedure with Maximum Likelihood Method for deriving the estimates using SPSS Statistics Version 20 with day of the diary 1—14 as level 1 variable and participants as level 2 variable.


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As the day of the diary did not show any linear or curvilinear trend in almost all of the analyzed variables over the 2 weeks, we excluded it from the analyses. Results of the multilevel analyses are presented in Table 3. Table 3. Estimates of fixed effects and random parameters for models of the predictors of daily social behavior and experience. To test if age moderated the relationship between social motives and daily outcomes, we included the interaction of age and social approach and avoidance motives, respectively, in the multilevel models:.

Significant interactions of age and motives were probed by using a subgroup-analysis approach, where the data are split into two age groups young and old and the analyses are repeated on these subgroups for a discussion on the limits of this approach see Newsom et al. Significant fixed effects of social motives for daily outcomes in the older but not or reduced in the younger group would support the increase hypothesis, significant fixed effects of social motives for daily outcomes in the younger but not or reduced in the older group would support the decrease hypothesis.

No significant interactions would support the stability hypothesis. We also tested the hypothesis that the effects of social approach and avoidance motives are strongest in the transition phase and decrease with the time since the move.


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To test this hypothesis, we included the interaction of time from the move and social approach and avoidance motives, respectively, in the multilevel models. Because this variable is almost perfectly confounded with age and, in this context, we were interested in time from move and not age , we controlled for age in these models:. Significant interactions of age and motives were again probed by using a subgroup-analysis approach, where the data are split into two time groups less or more than 3 months since the move and the analyses were repeated on these subgroups.

Significant fixed effects of social motives for daily outcomes in the more recent but not or reduced in the less recent group would support the hypothesis that the impact of social approach and avoidance motives is strongest in the transition phase and decreases over time. Social approach motives were positively associated with the number of social interactions, t Unexpectedly, social approach motives did not predict the active pursuit of and contact frequency with persons to whom participants did not feel close see Table 3 , upper part.

The hypotheses regarding the effects of social approach motives on the quality of social encounters were mostly supported see Table 3 , middle part.


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Social approach motives were related to positive behavior in social encounters, t Further, higher social approach motives were associated with more pleasant social encounters, t Unexpectedly, social approach motives were unrelated to the pleasantness of new social interactions. We hypothesized that social approach motives predict high subjective well-being. Results of the multilevel analyses partly supported this hypothesis see Table 3 , lower part.

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Social approach motives were negatively related to loneliness, t The results support the hypothesis that there is no relationship between social avoidance motives and quantity of social encounters see Table 3 , upper part. In addition to the quantity of social encounters, social avoidance motives were associated with negative cognitions about social interactions, t Higher social avoidance motives were associated with more negative cognitions about social interactions than lower social avoidance motives see Table 3 , middle part.

Unexpectedly, social avoidance motives were unrelated to negative social behavior. There were no other associations with daily behavior. We hypothesized that social avoidance motives are negatively associated with subjective well-being.

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Social avoidance motives were associated with lower physical, t As hypothesized, age was negatively related to the number of daily interactions, t Older adults also reported entering fewer new social relationships than younger adults did, t Age was unrelated to the active approach of social partners. Confirming hypotheses, older adults did not report more positive behaviors than younger adults, but they reported fewer negative behaviors in their daily interactions, t Further, older adults experienced the majority of their daily interactions and new social interactions equally positive as younger adults.

Older adults reported fewer negative cognitions about their social relationships than younger adults did, t One important question of this study was if the effects of social approach and avoidance motives differ between young and older adults. We introduced three alternative hypotheses of 1 stronger effects with age, 2 weaker effects with age, and 3 no age-related differences.

To test theses hypotheses, we included the interaction of age and social approach and avoidance motives, respectively, in the multilevel models reported in Table 3. None of these models fitted the data significantly better than the main-effect models. Thus, this study provides further support for the stability hypothesis stating that the effects of approach and avoidance motives do not differ across age groups.

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Results of the multilevel analyses revealed that the effect of social approach and avoidance motives on the quantity, quality, and active pursuit of social interactions was not moderated by time. One exception was a change over time in the effect of social approach motives on the active pursuit of interactions with close social partners. Apart from this exception, the effect of social motives on the quantity, quality, and active pursuit of social interactions seems quite stable.

In contrast, the effects of social approach and avoidance motives on variables related to subjective well-being differed by time since the move. The interactions of social avoidance motives and the time since the move were significant for physical well-being, F 1, Regarding social approach motives, only the effect on loneliness was significantly moderated by time, F 1, To better understand these interaction effects, we reran the analyses separately for the two time-from-move groups.

The results for social avoidance motives were consistent with the hypothesis. No other effects of social approach motives on subjective well-being were moderated by time since move. Results supported our expectations that social approach motives are positively associated with the quantity and the quality of social contacts.

In line with hypotheses, social approach motives were negatively related to loneliness but, contrary to expectations, unrelated to physical and affective well-being. Again supporting hypotheses, social avoidance motives were unrelated to the quantity of social contacts but negatively to their quality and to physical and emotional well-being. Expectations regarding the quantity and quality of social interactions were supported: older adults reported fewer social contacts in general and negative interactions in particular when compared to younger adults.

Handbook of stressful transitions across the lifespan

There were no differences between younger and older adults concerning the association between social motives and their outcomes. This supports the stability hypothesis. In line with our hypothesis, the impact of social approach and avoidance motives decreased over the course of the transition phase. However, the decrease was more pronounced for the avoidance than for the approach motives and for subjective well-being than for behavior and cognitions.

Throughout life, we undergo transitions that position us in new social environments. Arguably one of the central factors contributing to the successful mastery of transitions is how well we can establish new positive social relationships.