Task Control and Cognitive Abilities of Self and Spouse in Collaboration in Middle-Aged and Older Couples

Cynthia A. Berg*, Timothy W. Smith, Kelly J. Ko, Nancy J M Henry, Paul Florsheim, Gale Pearce, Bert N. Uchino, Michelle A. Skinner, Ryan M. Beveridge, Nathan Story, Kelly Glazer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Collaborative problem solving may be used by older couples to optimize cognitive functioning, with some suggestion that older couples exhibit greater collaborative expertise. The study explored age differences in 2 aspects of collaborative expertise: spouses' knowledge of their own and their spouse's cognitive abilities and the ability to fit task control to these cognitive abilities. The participants were 300 middle-aged and older couples who completed a hypothetical errand task. The interactions were coded for control asserted by husbands and wives. Fluid intelligence was assessed, and spouses rated their own and their spouse's cognitive abilities. The results revealed no age differences in couple expertise, either in the ability to predict their own and their spouse's cognitive abilities or in the ability to fit task control to abilities. However, gender differences were found. Women fit task control to their own and their spouse's cognitive abilities; men only fit task control to their spouse's cognitive abilities. For women only, the fit between control and abilities was associated with better performance. The results indicate no age differences in couple expertise but point to gender as a factor in optimal collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-427
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology and Aging
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Keywords

  • aging
  • cognitive abilities
  • collaboration
  • couples
  • interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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