The Association between Actor/Partner Optimism and Cognitive Functioning among Older Couples

TitleThe Association between Actor/Partner Optimism and Cognitive Functioning among Older Couples
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsOh, J, Chopik, WJ, Kim, ES
JournalJournal of Personality
Keywordsactor-partner interdependence model, cognitive functioning, Health and Retirement Study, Optimism
Abstract

Objective
Higher optimism has been linked with health, well‐being, and cognitive functioning. Spouses also play an important role on people's health, especially in older adulthood. Yet, whether a spouse's optimism is associated with an individual's cognitive functioning is understudied. Thus, we examined this question.

Method
Participants were 4,457 heterosexual couples (N = 8,914; Mage = 66.73, SD = 9.67) from the Health and Retirement Study—a large, diverse, prospective, and nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged > 50. Optimism was assessed at baseline (t1) and cognition was measured every two years with up to five repeated assessments of cognition data over the eight‐year follow‐up period (t1; t2; t3; t4; t5).

Results
Results from multi‐level dyadic data analyses showed small but positive associations between actor optimism and actor cognitive functioning (memory: r = 0.16, mental status =0.10), as well as partner optimism and actor cognitive functioning (memory: r = 0.04, mental status = 0.03). These associations mostly persisted over time.

Conclusions
Possessing higher optimism, and also having a partner with higher optimism, were both associated with higher cognitive functioning. Thus, with further research, optimism (at both the individual and couple level) might emerge as an innovative intervention target that helps adults maintain cognitive functioning as they age.

URLhttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jopy.12529
DOI10.1111/jopy.12529
Citation Keydoi:10.1111/jopy.12529