Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst? Future Self-Views and Preparation for Age-Related Changes

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Extending research on the impact of views on aging and developmental regulation across the life span, we tested the hypothesis that more positive views of oneself as an older person predict more preparation for age-related changes. Drawing on recent evidence regarding the domain specificity of aging-related developmental processes, we assumed this relationship to be moderated by the relevance of preparation in different life domains for different age groups. We investigated these research questions in a longitudinal study that assessed future self-views and preparation for different life domains in a sample covering a large part of the adult life span. Findings supported our hypotheses: More positive/negative personal views of one’s own aging at T1 predicted subsequent increases/decreases in preparation, with influences being strongest for those domains in which relevant age-related changes are expected to occur for the respective age groups. Our study provides additional evidence for the idea that views on aging shape development, identifying age-related provision making as an important mediating process. Furthermore, our findings highlight the added value of a domain-specific approach that takes the differential relevance of life domains and age-related developmental tasks into account.

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