What do we need at the end of life? Competence, but not autonomy, predicts intraindividual fluctuations in subjective well-being in very old age

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From: The Journals of Gerontology, Series B(Vol. 72, Issue 3)
Publisher: Gerontological Society of America
Document Type: Author abstract; Report
Length: 175 words

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Abstract :

Objectives: Self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that fulfillment of the universal psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness is essential for well-being of all humans. However, it is not clear whether this prediction also holds in advanced old age. The present study aims to test SDT for the two less researched needs in advanced old age: the needs for competence and autonomy. Method: A total of 111 very old adults (age range at first measurement occasion 87-97 years) were assessed up to 6 times over the course of about 4 years. Results: Competence, but not autonomy, predicted subjective well-being at the within-person level of analysis. At the between-person level, only negative affect was predicted by autonomy and competence, whereas positive affect and life satisfaction were predicted by competence only. Discussion: Results challenge the life-span universality of the needs for competence and autonomy postulated by SDT in very old adults and suggest that the high vulnerability in this life phase may change the importance of these needs for well-being. Keywords: Life satisfaction--Longitudinal change--Self-determination--Very old adults doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbv049

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A493990456