Socioeconomic status (SES) influences many facets of a person’s life. Researchers have theorized that low SES is associated with poor physical and mental health throughout life, but few studies have examined the long-term effects. Even fewer studies have examined how positive or negative mood, resulting from SES, influence physical health. “Given this background, the present study examines inter-individual differences in the development of positive and negative affect and physical health as well as in the dynamic associations between emotions and physical health in the second half of life according to education as one aspect of SES,” said Ina Schollgen of the German Centre of Gerontology in Berlin, Germany, and lead author of a recent study exploring SES, affect and physical health. Previous studies have have shown that positive affect (PA) decreases in old age and negative affect (NA) decreases until age 60, then stabilizes. But Schollgen’s study is among the first to link NA and PA, as a result of SES, directly to physical health.
Three waves of data were collected from 3,847 German participants who were part of a larger study. The researchers isolated several factors, including physical health, affect, SES, education and emotion. “We found an accelerating decline in PA for the low education group and stability for the high education group, whereas NA showed a slight linear decline in both groups,” said Schollgen. “At the same time, physical health showed the expected decline, which was accelerating in the high and more linear in the low education group, amounting to more than one standard deviation over a period of more than 40 years for both groups.” Schollgen believes that the results imply a direct link between SES and affect. “Given limited resources in later life, and especially for those with lower, the regulation of negative emotions might be more important than the maximization of PA.” Schollgen added, “This not only underlines the importance of SES for emotional functioning over the life span, but also shows that being socioeconomically disadvantaged may amplify the detrimental impact of emotional distress on health.”
Schöllgen, I., Huxhold, O., & Schmiedek, F. (2011, December 26). Emotions and Physical Health in the Second Half of Life: Interindividual Differences in Age-Related Trajectories and Dynamic Associations According to Socioeconomic Status. Psychology and Aging. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026115
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.