The Association of Age, Sense of Control, Optimism, and Self-Esteem With Emotional Distress

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The aim of this study was to test a model of emotional distress, which incorporates the potential mediator role of positive resources (sense of control, self-esteem, and optimism) in the association of age with emotional distress. The study used a cross-sectional design with intentional sampling and the voluntary participation of 325 adults between 18 and 87 years (M = 46.8 ± 19.10). The results show that emotional distress was negatively associated with age. Psychological resources also varied according to age, with older subjects presenting higher optimism and external control as well as lower internal control. The association between internal control and emotional distress was mediated by optimism and self-esteem. Moreover, the combined association of these 3 personal resources significantly increased the relationship between age and lower emotional distress. The results suggest that optimism and self-esteem are powerful resources in relieving emotional distress. The data provide potentially useful information for the design of psychological interventions aimed at reducing emotional distress.

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