SOCIAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PREDICTORS OF QUALITY OF LIFE IN OLDER WOMEN
MENDES, DINAH MERKIN
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Life satisfaction, the empirical construct that most closely captures the multi-dimensional nature of quality of life, has been extensively investigated in gerontological research and correlated with variables such as age, sex, marital status, health, income, and social participation. This study explored the contribution of personality variables, operationally defined as assessments of ego functioning and capacity for object relations, to life satisfaction in old age. Ego functioning was measured by Loevinger's scale of ego development, by a rating of Ego Energy, by level of form quality on the Rorschach, and by Intact Functioning Level, a composite rating of Rorschach manisfestations of aging. Capacity for object relations was assessed by a rating of Interpersonal Satisfaction, an index of achievement of satisfying interpersonal relationships, and four Rorschach-derived measures: Pruitt and Spilka's Rorschach Empathy-Object Relationship Scale, number of human movement responses, and two scores based on a modification of Urist's Mutuality of Autonomy Scale. Marital status, and subjectively evaluated health and financial status were also rated. Life satisfaction, the dependent variable, was measured by interview-based Life Satisfaction ratings and by a self-report Life Satisfaction Index.;The hypotheses postulated that both socio-demographic and psychological variables would influence life satisfaction, but that measures of object relations would be better predictors of life satisfaction than measures of ego functioning.;The variables were investigated in a sample of 35 Jewish women between the ages of 72-79, almost equally divided into groups of Single, Widowed, and Married. In the results of stepwise, hierarchical, multiple regression analyses Health and Interpersonal Satisfaction were identified as the two variables with considerable positive influence on both measures of life satisfaction. Two other psychological variables, Ego Energy and Number of Human Movement Responses, were significant factors in the analysis of Life Satisfaction Ratings only, whereas Marital Status was a significant predictor of the Life Satisfaction Index only.;Suggestions for future research included the incorporation of a rating of "psychosocial stressors," a multi-variable assessment encompassing health and income, of behavior-relevant measures of ego functioning and of measures of object relations derived from contextual and interview rather than projective data.
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