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Social Indicators Research

, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 999–1010 | Cite as

The influence of perceived control on subjective wellbeing in later life

  • S. de Quadros-Wander
  • J. McGillivrayEmail author
  • J. Broadbent
Article

Abstract

It has been proposed that a sense of control (primary control) is critical to maintaining positive and stable subjective wellbeing (SWB). As people age and control capacity presumably declines (due to physical and cognitive deterioration and increased sociocultural challenges), it is argued that the influence of secondary perceived control (or acceptance) increases to help maintain normative levels of SWB. While previous studies have typically investigated the relationship between perceived control and global estimates of satisfaction (i.e., overall life satisfaction), the present study evaluated the link between perceived control and seven key domains of satisfaction in order to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the control-satisfaction relationship. A community-based sample of 1,317 individuals (age range: 17–92 years) was utilised to examine potential age-related differences in perceived control (primary and secondary) and satisfaction. Findings revealed that primary and secondary perceived control both increased across age, with secondary perceived control increasing at a higher rate. Primary perceived control had predictive primacy for satisfaction over secondary perceived control (consistent with theory). A moderated mediation effect was also found, suggesting that, in later life, secondary perceived control influences primary perceived control and, in turn, influences satisfaction with various domains. Therefore, while primary control is important to wellbeing, it should be acknowledged that secondary perceived control may have unique significance to the wellbeing of older adults.

Keywords

Subjective wellbeing Quality of life Perceived control Primary control Secondary control Older adults 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. de Quadros-Wander
    • 1
  • J. McGillivray
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Broadbent
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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