FACTORS INFLUENCING ADJUSTMENT IN WIDOWHOOD: AGE, SEX, AND THE ROLE OF MEDIATING VARIABLES

DANIEL DAVID DUNN, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study examined the factors influencing adjustment in widowhood. Specifically, age and sex differences were investigated with the expectation of replicating previous findings of improved adjustment among older widowed persons and among widows. The investigation of these issues combined life events and life-span developmental perspectives to examine the impact of variables thought to mediate the adjustment process. Anticipatory socialization, length of widowhood, the sequencing of widowhood relative to other stressful life events, perceived financial status, and perceived social support were investigated as mediating variables.^ Adjustment was assessed by the Life Satisfaction Index, form A (Neugarten, Havighurst, & Tobin, 1961), Levenson's (1974) scales of locus of control, and the Perceived Social Support Scale (Procidano & Heller, 1982). The sample comprised 120 widows and 40 widowers, ranging in age from 32 to 91 years. Data analysis included univariate procedures for testing mean level differences as well as multiple regression analysis for predicting scores on the adjustment measures.^ Age differences were obtained on the life satisfaction measure, with older participants manifesting better adjustment. Age differences in locus of control and perceived social support were not obtained. Sex differences in the two external locus of control subscales of the Levenson measure indicated that widows were less influenced by the role of powerful others and the role of chance. With regard to mediating variables, significant differences in adjustment were obtained as a function of length of widowhood, the sequencing of other stressful life events, and perceived financial status, and perceived social support. The best predictors of adjustment were perceived financial status, perceived social support, and age. Through a comparison of retrospective and concurrent self-ratings, it was found that participants recalled better adjustment during the last years of marriage than they rated themselves in the present. Overall, the results of the present study indicate the need to broaden the sampling and measurement procedures in investigating adjustment in widowhood.^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

DUNN, DANIEL DAVID, "FACTORS INFLUENCING ADJUSTMENT IN WIDOWHOOD: AGE, SEX, AND THE ROLE OF MEDIATING VARIABLES" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8307007.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8307007

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