Self-perceptions of aging mediate the longitudinal relationship of hopelessness and depressive symptoms

Amber M. Gum, Liat Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of the current study was to examine the hypothesis that the prospective relationship between hopelessness and depressive symptoms is mediated by self-perceptions of aging. Methods: Data from 3 waves of the US Health and Retirement Study (2008, 2012, and 2014) were used (N = 4606; age M = 65.3, 55.5% female). In mediation analyses, hopelessness in 2008 was the independent variable, self-perceptions of aging in 2012 were the mediator, and depressive symptoms in 2014 were the outcome variable. Results: After controlling for covariates, hopelessness in 2008 was an independent predictor of self-perceptions of aging in 2012 (β = −.10, P <.001), and self-perceptions of aging in 2012 was an independent predictor of depressive symptoms in 2014 (β = −.41, P <.001). Hopelessness in 2008 showed both direct (β =.09, P <.001) and indirect (β =.03, P <.001) effects on depressive symptoms in 2014, indicating partial mediation by change in self-perceptions of aging. Conclusions: As hypothesized, change in self-perceptions of aging partially mediated the relationship of hopelessness with depressive symptoms 6 years later. Findings are consistent with a conceptualization of hopelessness as broad negative expectations about the future that may contribute to negative self-perceptions of aging and subsequent changes in depressive symptoms. Reducing hopelessness, increasing hope, and improving self-perceptions of aging have potential to reduce and prevent depressive symptoms for older adults. Future research should examine the mechanisms of these interrelationships and other aging outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-597
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Health and Retirement Study
  • depression
  • hopelessness
  • self-perceptions of aging


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