Gillian Craven

Doctor of Philosophy, (Psychology)
Study Completed: 2008
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Sociotropy and Autonomy in Older Adults, and the Relationships Between the Personality Styles, Social Support, and Affect

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Due to high rates of depression and anxiety in older adults, Ms Craven researched the connection between vulnerability and protective factors among older adults. Viewing oneself as connected (sociotropy) or independent and self-directed (autonomy) are thinking styles, which influence the experience and treatment of depression and anxiety in vulnerable individuals. First, the study examined the structure of sociotropy and autonomy in older adults. Findings indicated a different structure of sociotropy/autonomy for older than younger adults. Interpersonal sensitivity, attachment, and independence were related for older adults. The second stage investigated these components’ influence on how social support (identified as a protective factor against depression) is used and perceived. Attachment was a unique predictor of decreased family support, increased friend support and increased received family support. Higher independence resulted in increased positive affect, while sensitivity predicted increased negative affect. Findings contribute to cognitive interventions for enhancing older adults’ mental well-being.

Associate Professor Paul Merrick
Professor Kevin Ronan

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