Paul B. Baltes (1939–2006)

SOC: Abstracts

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Abraham, J. D., & Hansson, R. O. (1995). Successful aging at work: An applied study of selection, organization, optimization, and compensation through impression management. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 50B, P94–P103.

Although many abilities basic to human performance appear to decrease with age, research has shown that job performance does not generally show comparable declines. Baltes and Baltes (1990) have proposed a model of successful aging involving Selection, Optimization, and Compensation (SOC), that may help explain how individuals maintain important competencies despite age-related losses. In the present study, involving a total of 224 working adults ranging in age from 40 to 69 years, occupational measures of Selection, Optimization, and Compensation through impression management (Compensation-IM) were developed. The three measures were factorially distinct and reliable (Cronbach's alpha > .80). Moderated regression analyses indicated that: (1) the relationship between Selection and self-reported ability/performance maintenance increased with age (p < or = .05); and (2) the relationship between both Optimization and Compensation-IM and goal attainment (i.e., importance-weighted ability/performance maintenance) increased with age (p < or = .05). Results suggest that the SOC model of successful aging may be useful in explaining how older workers can maintain important job competencies. Correlational evidence also suggests, however, that characteristics of the job, workplace, and individual may mediate the initiation and effectiveness of SOC behaviors.

Bajor, J. K., & Baltes, B. B. (2003). The relationship between selection optimization with compensation, conscientiousness, motivation, and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63, 347–367.

This study tested the hypothesis that the relationship between conscientiousness and job performance is mediated by resource allocation strategies specific to a meta-theory called selective optimization with compensation (SOC). Data were collected from employees at a large, Midwestern financial institution. In general, results lend some support to the role of SOC as a mediator. Specifically, results indicated that especially for positions with larger amounts of autonomy and responsibility (i.e., managerial), highly conscientious individuals are more likely to report using strategies of loss-based selection and compensation and that these strategies in turn lead to higher levels of performance. However, the strategies of loss-based selection and compensation did not fully mediate the conscientious-performance relationship. Nevertheless, these strategies did contribute unique variance of their own in predicting work place performance. In fact, these strategies accounted for almost as much unique variance as conscientiousness and support the role of SOC as a unique predictor of job performance.

Baltes, B. B., & Dickson, M. W. (2001). Using life-span models in industrial-organizational psychology: The theory of selective optimization with compensation. Applied Developmental Science, 5, 51–62.

Life-span models and their emphasis on individual differences in aging and development fit perfectly with industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology's underlying theoretical assumptions. Furthermore, certain life-span metatheories can provide an overarching framework from which to understand various I-O research areas. This article attempts to demonstrate how a specific life-span model of successful aging-selective optimization with compensation (SOC)-can be used as a metatheory for 3 specific areas of I-O psychology: work-family conflict, leadership, and organization-level functioning. Finally, methodological issues that researchers should consider when using the SOC model in the I-O arena are also discussed.

Baltes, B. B., & Heydens-Gahir, H. A. (2003). Reduction of work-family conflict through the use of selection, optimization, and compensation behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 1005–1018.

Prior research has examined both the antecedents to and outcomes of work-family conflict. However, little is known about the existence and efficacy of behavioral strategies that may be used by individuals to reduce the amount of stressors experienced both on the job and at home, which result in work-family conflict. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) behaviors in relation to both job and family stressors and work-in-family (WIF) conflict and family-in-work (FIW) conflict. Results suggest that the use of general SOC behaviors in both the work and family domains are related to lower amounts of job and family stressors and subsequently lower amounts of WIF conflict and FIW conflict. In general, these results held true even when additional variables (e.g., hours worked, gender, job involvement, family involvement, social support, and supervisor support) were controlled. Implications of these results are discussed.

Baltes, M. M., & Carstensen, L. L. (1996). The process of successful ageing. Ageing and Society, 16, 397–422.

As increasingly more people experience old age as a time of growth and productivity, theoretical attention to successful ageing is needed. In this paper, we overview historical, societal and philosophical evidence for a deep, long-standing ambivalence about human ageing that has influenced even scientific views of old age. In recent years, however, discussion of the psychological and behavioural processes people use to maintain and reach new goals in late life has gained momentum. We contribute to this discussion the metamodel of selective optimisation with compensation, developed by Baltes and Baltes. The model is a metamodel that attempts to represent scientific knowledge about the nature of development and ageing with the focus on successful adaptation. The model takes gains and losses jointly into account, pays attention to the great heterogeneity in ageing and successful ageing, and views successful mastery of goals in the face of losses endemic to advanced age as the result of the interplay of the three processes, selection, compensation, and optimisation. We review evidence from the biological and social science literatures for each component and discuss new research avenues to study the interaction of the three processes.

Baltes, P. B., & Baltes, M. M. (1990). Psychological perspectives on successful aging: The model of selective optimization with compensation. In P. B. Baltes & M. M. Baltes (Eds.), Successful aging: Perspectives from the behavioral sciences (pp. 1–34). New York: Cambridge University Press.

The purpose of this chapter is twofold. First, we review research on the nature of psychological aging in terms of seven propositions. Second, we present a psychological model for the study of successful aging that, we contend, is consistent with the propositional framework. The approach advanced is based on the premise that successful, individual development (including aging) is a process involving three components: selection, optimization, and compensation. How these components of adaption are realized depends on the specific personal and societal circumstances individuals face and produce as they age.

Boerner, K., & Jopp, D. (2007). Improvement/maintenance and reorientation as central features of coping with major life change and loss: Contributions of three life-span theories. Human Development, 50, 171–195.

This article focuses on the common and unique contributions of three major life-span theories in addressing improvement/maintenance and reorientation, which represent central processes of coping with major life change and loss. For this purpose, we review and compare the dual-process model of assimilative and accommodative coping, the model of selection, optimization, and compensation, and the life-span theory of control. Although these theories share many basic assumptions about developmental regulation, each theory also has unique elements and offers varying degrees of refinement regarding particular aspects. To facilitate research on improvement/ maintenance and reorientation guided by these theories, we identify conceptual overlap as well as delineate differential features with respect to key definitions, predictions, and related empirical evidence. We conclude with recommendations and suggestions for future research.

Burnett-Wolle, S., & Godbey, G. (2007). Refining research on older adults' leisure: Implications of selection, optimization, and compensation and socioemotional selectivity theories. Journal of Leisure Research, 39, 498–513.

Continuity and activity theories are often used to study leisure behavior but have limitations that hinder their application to older adults. Two theories from Lifespan Development Psychology--selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) and socioemotional selectivity--are increasingly used in interdisciplinary research on older adults and are likely to contribute to the study of leisure behavior. Selection, optimization, and compensation theory describes how older adults set and pursue goals. Socioemotional selectivity theory describes continuity and change in social relationships. Both theories are empirically robust but have only been applied to leisure research in a few instances. Despite limited attention by leisure researchers, these theories provide a unique perspective on later life that may enhance the explanation and prediction of older adults' leisure pursuits and related relationships. If SOC or socioemotional selectivity theories are used to guide leisure research, the mechanisms that older adults use to adapt to changes in later life and their sources of social support must be addressed. The following article describes SOC and socioemotional selectivity theories, their relevance to leisure research, and provides guidance for using them in research on leisure behavior.

Busseri, M. A., Rose-Krasnor, L., Willoughby, T., & Chalmers, H. (2006). A longitudinal examination of breadth and intensity of youth activity involvement and successful development. Developmental Psychology, 42, 1313–1326.

Connections between youth activity involvement and indicators of successful development were examined in a longitudinal high school sample. Drawing on theories of expertise skill development (e.g., J. Cote, 1999); the selection, optimization, and compensation framework ( P. B. Baltes, 1997); and theories of positive youth development (e.g., R. M. Lerner, J. B. Almerigi, C. Theokas, & J. Lerner, 2005), reciprocal associations between breadth and intensity of activity involvement and developmental success were explored. Time 1 breadth (but not intensity) and increases in breadth predicted higher levels of successful development at Time 2 (20 months later). Time 1 developmental success and improvements predicted greater Time 2 breadth and intensity. Implications for research and theory related to connections between youth activity involvement and successful development are discussed.

Ebner, N. C., Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2006). Developmental changes in personal goal orientation from young to late adulthood: From striving for gains to maintenance and prevention of losses. Psychology and Aging, 21, 664–678 

Using a multimethod approach, the authors conducted 4 studies to test life span hypotheses about goal orientations across adulthood. Confirming expectations, in Studies 1 and 2 younger adults reported a primary growth orientation in their goals, whereas older adults reported a stronger orientation toward maintenance and loss prevention. Orientation toward prevention of loss correlated negatively with well-being in younger adults. In older adults, orientation toward maintenance was positively associated with well-being. Studies 3 and 4 extend findings of a self-reported shift in goal orientation to the level of behavioral choice involving cognitive and physical fitness goals. Studies 3 and 4 also examine the role of expected resource demands. The shift in goal orientation is discussed as an adaptive mechanism to manage changing opportunities and constraints across adulthood.

Freund, A. M. (2006). Age-differential motivational consequences of optimization versus compensation focus in younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 21, 240–252.

Four studies investigated age-related differences in goal focus in younger and older adults. Studies I and 2 confirmed the hypothesis that younger adults are more persistent when the same sensorimotor task offers possibility for optimizing performance than when the task requires counteracting a loss in performance (compensation). In contrast, older adults were more persistent in the compensation than in the optimization condition. Study 3 showed that the age-differential effects of goal focus on persistence were not simply due to perceiving the 2 conditions as easy versus difficult. Study 4 ruled out that the age differences were due to differences in the 2 tasks themselves. Taken together, the studies underscore the importance of situating motivational research into a life span context.

Freund, A. M. (2008). Successful aging as management of resources: The role of selection, optimization, and compensation. Research in Human Development, 5, 94–106.

One of the central tenets of life-span psychology is that the process of development entails gains and losses that occur over the entire life span. Thus, Paul and Margret Baltes (1990) conceptualized successful aging as a lifelong process of maximizing gains and minimizing losses by means of three processes: selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC). This article reviews empirical studies that have investigated the use of SOC during adulthood with different methodological approaches and have found evidence for the importance of SOC for successfully managing one's resources. The article highlights the importance of prioritizing goals (selection) according to their importance for increasing gains (optimization) and avoiding losses (compensation) in consideration of currently available resources. Age-related changes in resource availability and time perspective can also result in a shift in goal orientation towards gains or losses and in goal focus on the process or the outcome of goal pursuit. Taken together, the action-theoretical approach to the SOC framework suggests that selection, optimization, and compensation can be seen as key concepts for understanding successful aging.

Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (1998). Selection, optimization, and compensation as strategies of life management: Correlations with subjective indicators of successful aging. Psychology and Aging, 13, 531–543.

The usefulness of self-reported processes of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) for predicting on a correlational level the subjective indicators of successful aging was examined. The sample of Berlin residents was a subset of the participants of the Berlin Aging Study. Three domains (marked by 6 variables) served as outcome measures of successful aging: subjective well-being, positive emotions, and absence of feelings of loneliness. Results confirm the central hypothesis of the SOC model: People who reported using SOC-related life-management behaviors (which were unrelated in content to the outcome measures) had higher scores on the 3 indicators of successful aging. The relationships obtained were robust even after controlling for other measures of successful mastery such as personal life investment, neuroticism, extraversion, openness, control beliefs, intelligence, subjective health, or age. The usefulness of self-reported processes of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) for predicting on a correlational level the subjective indicators of successful aging was examined. The sample of Berlin residents was a subset of the participants of the Berlin Aging Study. Three domains (marked by 6 variables) served as outcome measures of successful aging: subjective well-being, positive emotions, and absence of feelings of loneliness. Results confirm the central hypothesis of the SOC model: People who reported using SOC-related life-management behaviors (which were unrelated in content to the outcome measures) had higher scores on the 3 indicators of successful aging. The relationships obtained were robust even after controlling for other measures of successful mastery such as personal life investment, neuroticism, extraversion, openness, control beliefs, intelligence, subjective health, or age.

Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2002a). The adaptiveness of selection, optimization, and compensation as strategies of life management: Evidence from a preference study on proverbs. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, P426–P434.

Proverbs were used to examine whether laypeople's conceptions of or preferences for life-management strategies are consistent with the model of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC model). The SOC model posits that there are three fundamental processes of life management: selection, optimization, and compensation. In two studies (N = 64; N = 131), young (19–32 years) and older adults (59–45 years) were asked to match proverbs to sentence stems indicative of life-management situations. Of the proverbs, half reflected one component of SOC and half alternative, non-SOC life-management strategies. SOC-related and alternative proverbs were matched on familiarity, understandability, and meaningfulness. Two main results were obtained: Young and older adults chose proverbs reflecting SOC (a) more frequently and (b) faster than alternative pro verbs. Study 3 (N = 60, 19–32 year-old participants) ruled out that these results were due to an artifact resulting from a stronger, purely semantic relationship of the specific sentence stems with the SOC-related proverbs. Studies 4 (N = 48 younger and older adults) and 5 (N = 20 younger adults) were conducted to test discriminant validity. In contrast with tasks involving long-term goal orientation and success, there were no preferences for SOC-related proverbs for life contexts involving relaxation or leisure. Taken together, results of these studies indicate that individuals, when asked to choose between alternative proverbs characterizing ways of managing life, prefer SOC-related proverbs.

Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2002b). Life-management strategies of selection, optimization, and compensation: Measurement by self-report and construct validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 642–662.

The authors examined the usefulness of a self-report measure for elective selection, loss-based selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) as strategies of life management. The expected 4-factor solution was obtained in 2 independent samples ( N= 218, 14–87 years; N= 181, 18–89 years) exhibiting high retest stability across 4 weeks ( rtt = .74–.82). As expected, middle-aged adults showed higher endorsement of SOC than younger and older adults. Moreover, SOC showed meaningful convergent and divergent associations to other psychological constructs (e.g., thinking styles, NEO) and evinced positive correlations with measures of well-being which were maintained after other personality and motivational constructs were controlled for. Initial evidence on behavioral associations involving SOC obtained in other studies is summarized.

Gestsdottir, S., & Lerner, R. M. (2007). Intentional self-regulation and positive youth development in early adolescence: Findings from the 4-H study of positive youth development. Developmental Psychology, 43, 508–521.

In this research, the authors examined the development of intentional self-regulation in early adolescence, which was operationalized through the use of a measure derived from the model of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC). This model describes the individual's contributions to mutually influential relations between the person and his or her context. Through use of data from a longitudinal sample of 5th and 6th graders who were participating in the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (PYD), structural equation modeling procedure, reliability analyses, and assessments of convergent, divergent, and predictive validity suggested that a global, 9-item form of the SOC measure was a valid index of intentional self-regulation in early adolescence. Scores for this index of SOC were related to indicators of positive and negative development in predicted directions. The authors discuss the idea that self-regulation is a global process in early adolescence that contributes to PYD.

Gignac, M. A. M., Cott, C., & Badley, E. M. (2002). Adaptation to disability: Applying selective optimization with compensation to the behaviors of older adults with osteoarthritis. Psychology and Aging, 17, 520–524.

This research extends the use of P. B. Baltes and M. M. Baltes's (1990) theory of selective optimization with compensation (SOC) in an effort to conceptually integrate the adaptational behaviors of 248 older adults with disability arising from osteoarthritis. The authors also studied the relationship of SOC to age, illness variables, disability, illness perceptions, and support. The results highlight the variability and plasticity of older adults' efforts to manage disability, with most efforts aimed at compensation and optimization rather than selection. The benefit of using SOC to study adaptation to chronic illness and disability is discussed.

Johansson, N. O., Andersson, J., & Ronnberg, J. (2005). Compensating strategies in collaborative remembering in very old couples. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 46, 349–359.

This study investigates collaborative memory performance in very old married couples working in two types of participant constellations, and with two types of memory tasks, i.e. working as couples, or as individuals in episodic or semantic memory tasks. Sixty-two old married couples were a priori classified as high or low on two dimensions suggested to be important for successful collaboration, i.e. responsibility (how division of responsibility was organized) and agreement (how they mutually agreed on each other's view). The episodic memory task was immediate recall of short stories. The semantic memory tasks were to answer questions about names, places, and concepts. The results suggested that: (1) groups outperformed a single individual, but (2) groups in general suffered from collaboration relative to the predicted potential in episodic tasks only, thus replicating earlier results. Nevertheless, (3) the couples scoring high on division of responsibility achieved the same productivity as nominal pairs (i.e. the predicted potential); (4) the couples scoring high on the agreement dimension showed that they were not as affected by collaboration, but then performed less well in "absolute" performance. Finally, the results were discussed in terms of optimal compensation strategies, especially for elderly couples.

Jopp, D., & Smith, J. (2006). Resources and life-management strategies as determinants of successful aging: On the protective effect of selection, optimization, and compensation. Psychology and Aging, 21, 253–265.

In this research, the authors investigated the specific and shared impact of personal resources and selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) life-management strategies (A. M. Freund & P. B. Baltes, 2002) on subjective well-being. Life-management strategies were expected to be most relevant when resources were constrained, particularly in very old age. In Study 1 (N = 156, 71–91 years), age-differential predictive patterns supported this assumption: Young-old individuals' well-being was predicted independently by resources and SOC, whereas SOC buffered the effect of restricted resources in old-old individuals. Study 2 replicated the findings longitudinally with resource-poor and resource-rich older individuals (N = 42). In both studies, specific SOC strategies were differentially adaptive. Results confirm that resources are important determinants of well-being but that life-management strategies have a considerable protective effect with limited resources.

Li, S.-C., & Freund, A. M. (2005). Advances in lifespan psychology: A focus on biocultural and personal influences. Research in Human Development, 2, 1–23.

A central task of lifespan psychology is to understand the interactive and dynamic nature of contextual and individual influences on development. Guided by this research orientation, recent lifespan research has addressed coconstructive mechanisms that involve reciprocal interactions between biology and culture at the contextual level as well as interactions between personal goals and developmental resources at the individual level. This review selectively focuses on such recent theoretical and empirical developments in understanding (a) the relative contributions of biology and culture across the lifespan, (b) biocultural coconstruction of developmental plasticity, and (c) the individual's regulatory processes (selection, optimization, and compensation) operating in the interactions between personal goals and developmental resources.

Maercker, A. (2003). Alterspsychotherapie: Aktuelle Konzepte und Therapieaspekte. Psychotherapeut, 48, 132-149.

Die im wachsenden Maße wichtiger werdende Psychotherapie mit älteren Menschen kann auf neu entwickelte Modelle und Konzepte der allgemeinen und der klinischen Gerontopsychologie zurückgreifen.Im Beitrag werden u. a. das Modell der selektiven Optimierung mit Kompensation, das Kohorten-Kontext-Reife-Herausforderungs-Modell sowie das Alters- und störungsspezifische Rahmenmodell der Alterspsychotherapie vorgestellt. Das alters- und störungsspezifische Rahmenmodell integriert die Faktoren der subjektiv wahrgenommenen Entwicklungsverluste und -gewinne sowie Störungswissen, das auch spezifisch im Alter auftretende Störungen umfasst, für die es in den gegenwärtigen Klassifikationssystemen noch keine gut definierten Diagnosen gibt (z.B. kurz dauernde rezidivierende Depressionen, komplizierte Trauer). Als therapeutische Implikationen dieses Modells werden das Bedürfnis der Patienten nach selektiv optimierten Therapiezielen, altersspezifische Problemrepräsentationen, die Frage nach altersspezifischen Behandlungsansätzen sowie eine Reihe von Modifikationen der bestehenden therapeutischen Techniken dargestellt und diskutiert.Im Beitrag wird betont, dass zur Spezifik der Alterspsychotherapie das Wissen über häufige körperliche Erkrankungen und deren Behandlungsstandards sowie ggf. die enge Zusammenarbeit mit den anderen behandelnden Heilberuflern gehört.

Oettingen, G. (1997). Das phantasierte Selbst und seine Bedeutung für die Entwicklung über die Lebensspanne. Zeitschrift für Sozialpsychologie, 28, 76–91.

Die Theorie des Zukunftsdenkens (Oettingen, 1997) unterscheidet zwei Formen zukunftbezogenen Denkens: Erwartungsurteile und spontane Phantasien. Während Erwartungsurteile die persönliche Geschichte reflektieren, sind spontane Zukunftsphantasien frei von den in der Vergangenheit gemachten Erfahrungen. Der erste Teil des vorliegenden Artikels diskutiert die motivationale Bedeutung des Zusammenwirkens dieser beiden Formen des Zukunftsdenkens anhand eines Experiments zum Thema phantasiertes Selbst und Lebensplanung. Die mentale Kontrastierung des positiv phantasierten Selbst mit negativen Aspekten der respektiven Realität führt dazu, dass das erwartete Selbst seine Wirksamkeit entfaltet. Vor dem Hintergrund eines Meta-Modells zur erfolgreichen Entwicklung über die Lebensspanne, dem Modell der selektiven Optimierung mit Kompensation (P. Baltes & M. Baltes, 1989), wird im zweiten Teil des Artikels die entwicklungspsychologische Bedeutung der mentalen Kontrastierung des phantasierten Selbst besprochen, wobei auf Prozesse der Selektion, Optimierung und Kompensation im einzelnen eingegangen wird. Abschließend wird analysiert, wie kontextuelle Faktoren (z.B. biologische, sozio-kulturelle und nicht-normative) den Inhalt von selbstbezogenen Zukunftsphantasien und die Höhe von Erfolgserwartungen beeinflussen und darüber vermittelt auf die drei Prozesse des erfolgreichen Alterns einwirken können.

Ouwehand, C., de Ridder, D. T. D., & Bensing, J. M. (2007). A review of successful aging models: Proposing proactive coping as an important additional strategy. Clinical Psychology Review, 27, 873–884.

Successful aging is an important concept, and one that has been the subject of much research. During the last 15 years, the emphasis of this research has shifted from formulating criteria for successful aging to describing the processes involved in successful aging. The main purpose of the present article is to review psychological models of successful aging. The model of Selective Optimization with Compensation (SOC-model) proves to be one of the leading models in this field. Although evidence about its value is accumulating, we argue that this model mainly focuses on how people react to losses and that proactive coping aimed at preventing potential threats to goals may also be a valuable strategy. We propose that proactive coping may be important for successful aging, since it results in a prolonged availability of resources for optimization and compensation processes and a delay in disengagement from important goals.

Porfeli, E. J. (2003). Designing lives and empowering clients: The case of Sue. Career Development Quarterly, 51, 300–305.

This case response centers on the client Sue, a professional mediator who seeks counseling to resolve a conflict with her employer that threatens her vocational identity (M. C. Rehfuss, 2003). P. B. Baltes's (1997) Selective Optimization With Compensation model of human development and J. Heckhausen and R. Schulz's (1995) Life-Span Theory of Control are used to frame Sue's career development, identify her current control orientation, and assist her in making the transition from compensation to an optimizing strategy. Such a strategy aims to preserve her vocational identity while satisfying the needs of her employer.

Rapp, M. A., Krampe, R. T., & Baltes, P.B. (2006). Adaptive task prioritization in aging: Selective resource allocation to postural control is preserved in Alzheimer disease. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 14, 52–61.

Objective: With age, the performance of multiple tasks decreases, a pattern exaggerated in Alzheimer disease (AD). At the same time, recent research, based on adaptive theories of healthy aging, indicates a preference of older adults to allocate resources toward tasks of higher immediate value (e.g., postural control). This study investigated whether such models also hold for pathologic cognitive aging. Method: Using a dual-task paradigm, the authors combined a working memory with a postural control task under easy and difficult conditions in patients with AD, older adults, older adults low on performance on a cognitive marker test, and young adults (N = 40). Participants repeatedly performed a cognitive and a postural control task both simultaneously and in isolation over the course of eight sessions. Results: Consistent with earlier studies on divided attention in age and AD, the authors found large dual-task performance decrements with age and more so in AD. When not challenged, patients with AD showed large performance decrements under dual-task conditions in both postural control and working memory. With increasing difficulty in the postural control task, however, older adults, and more so patients with AD, maintained a high level of functioning in postural control, as compared with working memory. Conclusion: The findings indicate that the theory of selective optimization with compensation extends to pathologic aging and have broad implications for models of dual-task performance and executive control in aging and AD.

Riediger, M., & Freund, A. M. (2004). Interference and facilitation among personal goals: Differential associations with subjective well-being and persistent goal pursuit. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1511–1523.

Three studies demonstrate that mutual facilitation and interference among personal goals are distinct characteristics rather than mutually exclusive opposites and have different functions for psychological well-being and goal pursuit. The three studies vary in design (cross-sectional, short-term longitudinal) and follow a multimethod approach using questionnaires, diaries, and objective behavioral information. Results show that interference among goals (resulting from resource constraints and incompatible goal attainment strategies) is negatively associated with trait and state well-being, whereas mutual facilitation among goals (resulting from instrumental goal relations and overlapping goal attainment strategies) is positively associated with involvement in goal pursuit.

Riediger, M., & Freund, A.M. (2006). Focusing and restricting: Two aspects of motivational selectivity in adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 21, 173–185.

Using a short-term longitudinal design, the authors investigated implications of two facets of motivational selectivity – restricting (to few goals) and focusing (on central and similar goals) – for goal-pursuit investment. Participants were 20–69 years old (Time 1, N = 177; Time 2, N = 160). Results show that motivational selectivity in terms of focusing (but not in terms of restricting) is associated with an enhanced involvement in goal pursuit (assessed 3 months later), irrespective of age. Structural equation models demonstrated that this association is completely mediated by the degree of mutual facilitation among goals. Furthermore, motivational selectivity increases from middle to older adulthood. This contributes to the maintenance of high goal involvement into later adulthood, despite aging-related increases in resource limitations.

Riediger, M., Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2005). Managing life through personal goals: Intergoal facilitation and intensity of goal pursuit in younger and older adulthood. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 60B, P84–P91.

Two studies varying in design (cross-sectional and longitudinal) and methods (questionnaires, diaries, and objective information) support the notion that personal goals are among the phenomena that show positive development throughout adulthood: Older adults (M = 64 years) reported more mutual facilitation among their personal goals and were more engaged in goal pursuit than were younger adults (M = 25 years). Results were robust when age-group differences in education and disposable time were controlled for, and they also emerged in a context where younger and older participants had one goal in common, namely, to start regular physical exercise. Mediational analyses showed that the older adults' higher intensity of goal pursuit was partly mediated by their higher level of intergoal facilitation.

Ryan, E. B., Anas, A. P., Beamer, M., & Bajorek, S. (2003). Coping with age-related vision loss in everyday reading activities. Educational Gerontology, 29, 37–54.

The activity of reading is often threatened in later life by gradual vision loss due to age-related conditions such as macular degeneration. We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with 26 visually impaired seniors experiencing severe or moderate vision loss. Our aim was to clarify the role of reading for leisure in their lives and also to learn how they dealt with the reading required for instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Participants judged reading, both before and after vision loss, as extremely important to them especially for the purposes of learning and enjoyment. On average, the time spent reading remained the same, and the main decline in the types of materials read was for newspapers and magazines. Approximately 60% of the participants used talking books, while a quarter used computer technology for reading print. With regard to functional independence, the participants identified reading demands involving small print, dials, and currency for the separate IADL domains. Specific strategies reported for coping with these reading-related barriers were analyzed in terms of the selection-optimization-compensation framework of Baltes and Baltes (1990). Providing information in alternate modes and improving access to appropriate assistive devices could enhance older adults' ability to read for life.

Staudinger, U. M. (2000). Viele Gründe sprechen dagegen, und trotzdem geht es vielen Menschen gut: Das Paradox des subjektiven Wohlbefindens. Psychologische Rundschau, 51, 185–197.

Gegenstand der vorliegenden Überlegungen ist das Paradox des subjektiven Wohlbefindens, das darin besteht, daß viele Menschen sich auch unter widrigen Umständen wohlfühlen. Der empirische Mittelwert des Wohlbefindens scheint zudem im moderat positiven Bereich zu liegen. Es wird gezeigt, daß dieses Paradox des subjektiven Wohlbefindens nicht nur ein Methodenartefakt ist. Subjektives Wohlbefinden läßt sich mit relativer Reliabilität und prädiktiver Validität messen. Das Paradox läßt sich auch nicht durch ungenaue Messung der Risikoindikatoren aufklären, wenn auch abmildern. Ebenso tragen bereichsspezifische, dimensionale und längsschnittliche Erfassung des Wohlbefindens einiges zur Aufläsung des Paradox bei. Zentral sind für die Wohlbefindensregulation jedoch Merkmale und Mechanismen von Selbst und Persänlichkeit, wie Vergleichsprozesse, Anspruchsniveauveränderungen, Zielanpassungen, Bewältigungsformen und aber auch die Struktur der Selbstdefinition und trait-ähnliche Persänlichkeitscharakteristiken. Aspekte biologischer und kultureller Evolution scheinen dazu beigetragen zu haben, daß der empirische Mittelwert des subjektiven Wohlbefindens im positiven Bereich liegt, aber auch daß der Wohlbefindensregulation Grenzen gesetzt sind. Schließlich wird ein übergreifendes Entwicklungsmodell, das der selektiven Optimierung mit Kompensation, als integrativer Denkrahmen angeboten.

Thompson, L. A. (1995). Encoding and memory for visible speech and gestures: A comparison between young and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 10, 215–228.

Two experiments explored whether older adults have developed a strategy of compensating for slower speeds of language processing and hearing loss by relying more on the visual modality. Experiment 1 examined the influence of visual articulatory movements of the face (visible speech) in auditory–visual syllable classification in young adults and older adults. Older adults showed a significantly greater influence of visible speech. Experiment 2 examined immediate recall in three spoken-language sentence conditions: speech alone, with visible speech, or with both visible speech and iconic gestures. Sentences also varied in meaningfulness and speech rate. In the old adult group, recall was better for sentences containing visible speech compared with the speech-alone sentences in the meaningful sentence condition. Old adults' recall showed no overall benefit of the presence of gestures. Young adults' recall on meaningful sentences was not higher for the visible speech compared with the speech-alone condition, whereas recall was significantly higher with the addition of iconic gestures. In the anomalous sentence condition, both young and old adults showed an advantage in recall by the presence of visible speech. The experiments provide converging evidence for old adults' greater reliance on visible speech while processing visual–spoken language.

Wiese, B. S., & Freund, A. M. (2005). Goal progress makes one happy, or does it? Longitudinal findings from the work domain. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 78, 287–304.

In a 3-year longitudinal study with a sample of N = 82 young professionals (44% male; age range: 28–39 years), self-reported progress in the pursuit of personal goals was associated with affective well-being, work satisfaction, and subjective developmental success in the work domain. Goal progress, however, did not predict an increase in affective well-being and work satisfaction. Four constructs – goal difficulty, current work involvement, positive fantasies, and goal progress in the private domain – were selected to analyse their potentially moderating effect on the link between goal progress and well-being increases. Goal difficulty evinced the clearest moderating effects. Goal difficulty predicted change in all outcome criteria, that is, only adults who perceived their goals as difficult to reach also reported a change in positive and negative affect, job satisfaction, and subjective developmental success over a period of 3 years.

Wiese, B. S., Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2000). Selection, optimization, and compensation: An action-related approach to work and partnership. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 57, 273–300.

This study (N = 206 young professionals, 54% male; age range 25 to 36 years) presents evidence for the fruitfulness of applying the theory of selective optimization with compensation (SOC; P. B. Baltes & M. M. Baltes, 1990) to the pursuit of career-related and partnership-related goals in young adulthood. Selection denotes the construction of goal systems; optimization and compensation describe the use of goal relevant means. SOC was measured by self-report using a general and two domain-specific (work, partnership) scales. Results confirmed the hypothesis. Individuals reporting SOC-behaviors scored higher on multiple subjective indicators of global and domain-specific success. Comparing the predictive power of the general and the domain-specific SOC scales, higher domain-specific predictive associations were obtained for the partnership domain. The findings were quite robust when controlling for rival predictors including "Big-Five" traits and control beliefs.

Wiese, B. S., Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2002). Subjective career success and emotional well-being: Longitudinal predictive power of selection, optimization, and compensation. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 60, 321–335.

In a 3-year longitudinal study, we found in a sample of young professionals (N = 82; 44% male; age range: 28 to 39 years) that self-reported behaviors reflecting selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) predicted global and work-specific subjective well-being (multiple correlations ranged from R = .22 to R = .44). In addition to optimization (i.e., implementing goal-relevant means), it was especially the degree of compensation (i.e., investing goal-relevant means to counteract losses) that predicted how emotionally balanced individuals felt and how satisfied they were with their work situation 3 years later. These longitudinal predictions were quite robust when controlling for personality variables (NEO). Results are consistent with previous cross-sectional findings and demonstrate how the SOC framework might be successfully applied to the domain of vocational behavior.

Wiesmann, U., Rölker, S., & Hannich, H.-J. (2004). Salutogenese im Alter. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 37, 366–376.

In diesem Beitrag wird die Bedeutsamkeit des salutogenetischen Modells (Antonovsky) und seines Kernkonzeptes – dem Kohärenzgefühl – für die Erforschung des „erfolgreichen Alterns“ auf dem Hintergrund einer gerodynamischen Perspektive (Schroots) herausgestellt. Beide Ansätze gehen von der Vorstellung aus, dass das Grundprinzip des Lebens auf Ungleichgewicht, Krankheit und Leiden (Heterostase) aufbaut. Gemäß dieser pessimistischen Sichtweise ist Altern als die individuelle zeitliche Dimension zu verstehen, auf der diese unvermeidlichen negativen Veränderungen in biologischer, psychologischer und sozialer Hinsicht stattfinden. Dieser kontinuierliche Zuwachs an Entropie (Unordnung) findet mit dem Tod seinen Endpunkt. Angesichts gerontologischer Befunde, die die Variabilität und individuelle Plastizität von Alternsprozessen belegen – insbesondere für das dritte Alter –, lautet die salutogenetische Frage, warum es einigen Personen überhaupt gelingt, gesund alt zu werden. Dem Salutogenese-Modell zufolge bestimmt das Kohärenzgefühl die (Wieder-)Herstellung von Ordnung über die Lebensspanne und vermittelt die Beziehung zwischen non-entropischen Kräften und Gesundheit. Am Beispiel der Aktivitäts-/ Disengagement-Theorie und des SOK-Modells wird das integrative Potential des salutogenetischen Modells gezeigt. Abschließend wird die Bedeutung des Kohärenzgefühls für das vierte Alter diskutiert. Altern in Gesundheit ist eine Möglichkeit menschlicher Existenz, keinesfalls eine Pflicht, die dem Einzelnen gesellschaftlich auferlegt werden darf.

Young, L. M, Baltes, B. B., & Pratt, A. K. (2007). Using selection, optimization, and compensation to reduce job/family stressors: Effective when it matters. Journal of Business and Psychology, 21, 511–539.

Previous research has demonstrated that the use of general behaviors specified by a life-management strategy entitled Selection, Optimization, and Compensation (SOC) reduces, if only to a small extent, the perceived amounts of the main antecedents (i.e., job/family stressors) of work-family conflict. The results of the current study demonstrate that several variables that impact the amount of resources demanded of, or resources available to, an individual (e.g., supervisor support) moderate the relationship between SOC behaviors and job/family stressors. Specifically, SOC strategies are more effective than previously thought at reducing job/family stressors for precisely those individuals in the most demanding situations.

Ziegelmann, J. P., & Lippke, S. (2007). Planning and strategy use in health behavior change: A life span view. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 14, 30–39

Exercise-related strategy use and planning were investigated in younger (18-49 years) and older individuals (50-80 years) in orthopedic rehabilitation who were supposed to adhere to a strict exercise regimen. As part of a longitudinal study, N = 368 individuals completed questionnaires assessing the amount of physical activities performed pre-rehabilitation and 6 and 12 months after discharge. In addition, the extent of strategy use (selection, optimization, and compensation) and planning after discharge was assessed. Planning was subdivided into two constructs: action planning (planning when, where, and how to exercise) and coping planning (planning how to exercise in the face of barriers). Two-sample structural equation modeling was used. For both age groups, strategy use improved prediction of exercise goal attainment on top of planning, while strategy use mediated the relationship between coping planning and goal attainment. Interventions fostering strategy use as well as planning might enhance exercise adherence across age groups.

Ziegelmann, J. P., Lippke, S., & Schwarzer, R. (2006). Adoption and maintenance of physical activity: Planning interventions in young, middle-aged, and older adults. Psychology & Health, 21, 145–163.

Young, middle-aged, and older adults in orthopaedic outpatient rehabilitation (N = 373) were randomly assigned to either an interviewer-assisted or a standard-care self-administered planning intervention. Physical activity planning consisted of specifying action plans to facilitate action initiation, and coping plans to overcome barriers. The interviewer-assisted condition led to more complete action plans and a longer duration of physical activities up to six months after discharge. Regarding coping planning, older and middle-aged adults benefited more from interviewer-assisted planning while younger adults benefited more from self-administered planning. Planning as such was found to be an effective tool for enactment irrespective of chronological age. The delayed effect of coping planning on enactment suggests that coping planning is important for long-term maintenance.


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Last updated 05/2008

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