Regret Intensity, Diurnal Cortisol Secretion, and Physical Health in Older Individuals: Evidence for Directional Effects and Protective Factors

Carsten Wrosch*, Isabelle Bauer, Gregory E. Miller, Sonia Lupien

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two studies were conducted to examine the associations between life regrets and health-relevant variables among older adults. Study 1 explored whether intense experiences of regret would be associated with a health-relevant biological process (i.e., diurnal cortisol secretion) and acute physical problems (N = 183). In Study 2, a group of 103 older adults was followed over a period of 3 months, and changes in cold symptoms and sleep problems were examined. Study 2 incorporated an experimental manipulation, targeted at engaging participants in adaptive social-cognitive processes through writing. The results of Study 1 showed intense life regrets to be associated with a larger volume and a steeper morning rise of cortisol secretion and with higher levels of acute physical symptoms. Study 2 demonstrated that levels of regret intensity generally declined only in the experimental group, whereas certain aspects of regret intensity remained stable in the control group. In addition, the intervention evidenced a beneficial effect on the association between initial regret intensity and increased sleep problems over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and Aging
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2007

Keywords

  • aging
  • cortisol
  • physical health
  • regret
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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