The Role of Negative Cognitions in Depression, Functional Limitations, and Activity: A National Longitudinal Study of Older Adults

Diane Wagner

Major Professor: Jerome Short, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Timothy W. Curby, Sarah Fischer

The Hub (SUB II), #3
October 15, 2015, 03:00 PM to 12:00 PM


This study examines the role of negative cognitions in late life depression, functional limitations, and activity. Participants were 673 adults (36% male) aged 50 to 88 who completed repeated measures in 2004, 2008, and 2012 as part of the Health and Retirement Study, a large nationally representative longitudinal sample. Three bivariate Latent Difference Score models tested time-lagged associations in pairs of variables at three time points. Contrary to expectations, negative cognitions (pessimism and hopelessness) were not related to depression or functional limitations. Lower levels of negative cognitions were related to decreases in activity over time, suggesting that negative cognitions may influence activity levels, but more research is needed to understand the nature of this relationship in older adults.