Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

This study used an experimental methodology to examine positive affect and gratitude as mediators of the beneficial impact of an intervention in which older adults savor "life lessons" they have learned in growing older on measures of psychological well-being (i.e., positive attitudes toward aging, life satisfaction, anxiety, state self-esteem, and state hope). In the following pages, I first review the background literature on gerontology and quality of life as well as describe, in detail, the original experiment (Smith & Bryant, 2018) that formed the foundation of the proposed research. Next, I describe several extensions of this earlier study that are designed to clarify the mechanism(s) through which the savoring intervention operated and to expand the set of outcome measures used in the previous study. I then present the specific hypotheses that the current research tested. This experimental study involved a final sample of 202 individuals age sixty-five or older who were enlisted through Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Participants were randomly assigned to either the experimental condition (in which they reflected on important lessons that they had learned in the process of growing older) or the control condition (in which they reflected on the details of their typical morning routine). Multiple analyses were used to test experimental hypotheses, including analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) and bootstrap tests of indirect (mediated) effects. Participants' actual levels of savoring were a significant mediator of the effect of condition on positive attitudes toward aging, life satisfaction, state hope, and appearance self-esteem. In addition, state gratitude significantly mediated the impact of savoring on positive attitudes toward aging, life satisfaction, and state hope, whereas positive affect did not. Implications of these results for future research on savoring interventions are discussed, and hypotheses are derived about the types of individuals for whom such interventions may be most effective. Finally, future directions designed to advance our understanding of the observed experimental effects are proposed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Thursday, May 09, 2024

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