Future Time Perspective and Awareness of Age-Related Change: Examining Their Role in Predicting Psychological Well-Being

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Abstract

This study examined how 2 distinct facets of perceived personal lifetime—future time perspective (FTP) and awareness of age-related change (AARC)—are associated with another, and how they may interact to predict psychological well-being. To better understand associations among subjective perceptions of lifetime, aging, and well-being, we tested a series of models to investigate questions of directionality, indirect effects, and conditional processes among FTP, AARC-Gains, AARC-Losses, and psychological well-being. In all models, we tested for differences between middle-aged and older adults, and between adults from the United States and Germany. Analyses were conducted within a structural equation modeling framework on a cross-national, 2.5-year longitudinal sample of 537 community-residing adults (age 40–98 years). Awareness of age-related losses (AARC-Losses) at Time 1 predicted FTP at Time 2, but FTP did not predict AARC-Gains or AARC-Losses. Furthermore, future time perspective mediated the association between AARC-Losses and well-being. Moderation analyses revealed a buffering effect of awareness of age-related gains (AARC-Gains) in which perceptions of more age-related gains diminished the negative effect of a limited future time perspective on well-being. Effects were robust across age groups and countries. Taken together, these findings suggest that perceived age-related loss experiences may sensitize individuals to perceive a more limited future lifetime which may then lead to lower psychological well-being. In contrast, perceived age-related gains may function as a resource to preserve psychological well-being, in particular when time is perceived as running out.

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