The effects of age on well-being, psychopathology and repressive coping
The present study was conducted to test the hypothesis that the increased psychological well-being and positivity effect in old age can be related to a high prevalence of repressive coping in healthy older adults. Both older (mean age 73) and younger (mean age 20) adults completed a range of indices measuring psychopathology and repressive coping. Results showed that older adults scored lower than younger adults on almost all indices of psychopathology, and were more likely to be classed as repressive copers than younger adults (41% versus 11%, respectively). Furthermore, when the repressive copers and borderline repressors were removed from both samples, age effects on several, but not all, measures of psychopathology disappeared indicating that even older non-repressors showed better mental health than young non-repressors. Possible mechanisms of increased positivity, in terms of repressive coping and reductions in intrusive thoughts and rumination in old age, are discussed.