Dyadic contagion in cognitive function: A nationally-representative longitudinal study of older U.S. couples

TitleDyadic contagion in cognitive function: A nationally-representative longitudinal study of older U.S. couples
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsDas, A
JournalSocial Science Research
Volume120
Pagination103011
ISSN Number0049-089X
KeywordsAllostatic load, Dyadic cognitive careers, FE-CLPM, Global cognitive function, Social allostasis
Abstract

Later-life cognitive function is strongly influenced by one's environment. At this life stage, a partner's behaviors and attributes—including their own cognitive status—are a key environmental determinant. A recent “social allostasis” theory also yields specific predictions on patterns of mutual influence—or “contagion”—in cognitive function. Yet, no population representative studies have examined these coupled dynamics. Using recently developed fixed-effects cross-lagged panel modeling (FE-CLPM) methods and ten-year data from the Health and Retirement Study—nationally-representative of U.S. adults over 50—the current study filled this gap. Results supported dyadic cognitive contagion over the long- but not short-run. Short-term associations suggested intriguing “cognitive cycling” possibilities among both men and women that need further investigation. Overall, results supported a theoretical model of coupled “cognitive careers,” and relational inducement of allostatic load. Especially among men, recurrent impulses also cumulatively induced substantial path-dependent cognitive improvements, supporting the added value of repeated over one-time interventions. Theoretical and substantive implications are discussed.

DOI10.1016/j.ssresearch.2024.103011
Citation KeyDAS2024103011