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It Is What You Have, Not What You Lose: Effects of Perceived Gains and Losses on Goal Orientation Across Adulthood


Gong, Xianmin; Freund, Alexandra M (2020). It Is What You Have, Not What You Lose: Effects of Perceived Gains and Losses on Goal Orientation Across Adulthood. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Objectives: Goal orientation tends to shift from predominantly striving for gains to maintenance and loss avoidance across adulthood. A dominant hypothesis states that age-related increases in losses drive the motivational shift. The present study tests this hypothesis and an alternative, namely that perceived accumulation of resources/assets and discrepancy between the actual and desired state underlie the stronger maintenance and loss-avoidance orientation in older than younger adults. Methods: Data from N = 182 U.S. adult participants on Amazon Mechanical Turk (preregistered; 50.0% female; 19–77 years, M = 45.1, SD = 15.86) comprise measures of demographics, goal orientation in 16 selected life domains as well as perceived accumulation, losses, actual-desired discrepancy in the same domains. Results: Multilevel modeling analyses showed that, as expected and confirming prior research, gain orientation decreased and maintenance orientation increased with age. Moreover, both perceived losses and accumulation of resources/assets increased with age, while the actual-desired discrepancy decreased. Larger perceived accumulation and smaller actual-desired discrepancies were associated with stronger maintenance orientation. Regardless of age, a smaller actual-desired discrepancy was also associated with stronger loss-avoidance orientation. Contrary to predictions, perceived losses were negatively associated with gain orientation, but not significantly associated with maintenance or loss-avoidance orientation. Discussion: Results replicate the shift in goal orientation across adulthood. Speaking against the loss hypothesis, perceived accumulation of resources/assets and actual-desired discrepancy seem to play an important role in determining goal orientation over adulthood, while the role of perceived losses may be less significant than commonly assumed.

Abstract

Objectives: Goal orientation tends to shift from predominantly striving for gains to maintenance and loss avoidance across adulthood. A dominant hypothesis states that age-related increases in losses drive the motivational shift. The present study tests this hypothesis and an alternative, namely that perceived accumulation of resources/assets and discrepancy between the actual and desired state underlie the stronger maintenance and loss-avoidance orientation in older than younger adults. Methods: Data from N = 182 U.S. adult participants on Amazon Mechanical Turk (preregistered; 50.0% female; 19–77 years, M = 45.1, SD = 15.86) comprise measures of demographics, goal orientation in 16 selected life domains as well as perceived accumulation, losses, actual-desired discrepancy in the same domains. Results: Multilevel modeling analyses showed that, as expected and confirming prior research, gain orientation decreased and maintenance orientation increased with age. Moreover, both perceived losses and accumulation of resources/assets increased with age, while the actual-desired discrepancy decreased. Larger perceived accumulation and smaller actual-desired discrepancies were associated with stronger maintenance orientation. Regardless of age, a smaller actual-desired discrepancy was also associated with stronger loss-avoidance orientation. Contrary to predictions, perceived losses were negatively associated with gain orientation, but not significantly associated with maintenance or loss-avoidance orientation. Discussion: Results replicate the shift in goal orientation across adulthood. Speaking against the loss hypothesis, perceived accumulation of resources/assets and actual-desired discrepancy seem to play an important role in determining goal orientation over adulthood, while the role of perceived losses may be less significant than commonly assumed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Gerontology, Clinical Psychology, Geriatrics and Gerontology, Social Psychology
Language:English
Date:4 January 2020
Deposited On:04 Feb 2020 13:57
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 14:03
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1079-5014
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbz163
PubMed ID:31900492

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