Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Are There Gender Differences in Stress Response in Older Adults? Findings from the Normative Aging Study Public Deposited

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  • In this study, we explored the relationships among gender, age, daily stressors, positive and negative affect, and neuroticism on cortisol outcomes in older men and women. We were particularly interested in whether variation in positive affect would have an effect on variation in negative affect and if this relationship would mediate the stress process. Further, we were interested in whether women would have lower cortisol outcomes as a result of this process. The participants in this study included 96 men (mean age = 79) and 65 of their wives (mean age = 75) who took part in an at-home 8- day daily diary study as part of the Normative Aging Study (NAS). This study uses data collected on four of those days in which participants provided 4 measures of salivary cortisol that we matched with a NAS version of the Daily Inventory of Stressful Events (DISE; Almeida, Wethington, & Kessler, 2002), PANAS (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), and a 2007 assessment of neuroticism (Goldberg, 1992). Bivariate, regression, and three-level MLM-mediated-moderated analyses indicated that age had a significant effect on negative affect reports, but only for women, such that women had a downward slope in negative affect as age became higher. The rest of the analyses indicated that men and women were more alike than different in later life, although neuroticism, age, and stress had some notable main effects on affect and cortisol outcomes. These results enhance our understanding of the complex relationship between psychosocial effects and physiological stress responses in an age range rarely studied in the stress and resilience literature.
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