2022 journal article

Aging Attitudes and Changes in the Costs of Cognitive Engagement in Older Adults Over 5 Years

PSYCHOLOGY AND AGING, 37(4), 456–468.

author keywords: aging; motivation; engagement; aging attitudes; longitudinal
Source: Web Of Science
Added: June 6, 2022

The costs associated with performing a specific activity may play an important role in determining engagement, potentially impacting the willingness of older adults to engage in activities-particularly those with high demands-that may have benefits for physical and cognitive health. The present study examined changes in both objective (effort expenditure) and subjective (perceived task demands) costs associated with engagement in a cognitively challenging memory-scan task across a 5-year period in 163 older adults aged 64-81. Consistent with assumptions of selective engagement theory (SET; Hess, 2014), the effort associated with performing the task-as assessed by systolic blood pressure responses-was observed to increase over time. Subjective assessments of costs, as assessed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration task load index (NASA TLX), were also observed to increase. In addition, the increases in both objective and subjective costs were greatest at high levels of task demands. We further found that both the effort and, to a lesser extent, perceived costs associated with performance were moderated by aging attitudes. Specifically, more positive attitudes were associated with greater effort expenditure and lower perceived costs. These findings suggest that negative attitudes about aging may have detrimental effects on perceived ability to perform challenging tasks. Given the importance of costs in determining activity participation, promoting positive aging attitudes along with more realistic perceptions of task demands may provide important means for promoting engagement in beneficial activities. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).