Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 10

Psychology and Aging

2003, Vol. 18, No. 1, 312

Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.


0882-7974/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0882-7974.18.1.3

The Role of Self-Enhancing Evaluations in a Successful Life Transition


Christine Man Lai Kwan, Gayle Dienberg Love, Carol D. Ryff, and Marilyn J. Essex
University of WisconsinMadison
The objective of the study was to investigate how self-enhancing evaluations, obtained via positive social
comparisons and reflected appraisals, were related to mental health in a later life transition. The sample
consisted of 266 women who were interviewed once before and 3 times after the experience of
community relocation. Results extended prior findings suggesting the dynamic impact of self-enhancing
evaluative processes on psychological well-being and depressive symptoms. Additional analyses showed
evidence for reverse causality, that is, that mental health also influenced self-evaluative processes. This
study underscores the significance of holding a positive view of self vis-a`-vis others in negotiating life
challenges as well as the reciprocal influence of well-being on social self-evaluative processes.

(1988) self-evaluation maintenance model of social behavior posits that individuals behave in a manner that maintains or enhances
positive self-evaluation. Likewise, the need for self-enhancement
is suggested to underlie the egos fabrication and revision of
personal history (Greenwald, 1980, p. 603)that is, various
cognitive biases organize self-knowledge with the goal of protecting or increasing self-esteem. Furthermore, Sedikides and Strubes
(1997) Self-Concept Enhancing Tactian model proposes that selfenhancement is fundamental to other key motives involved in
self-appraisal. Individuals seek to maintain consistency among
existing self-concepts, reduce uncertainty regarding the self, and
make genuine improvement in their traits and abilities so as to
maintain or enhance the positivity of their self-conceptions. Taken
together, these self-theories provide converging formulations of
individuals motivation to maintain positive self-evaluations at
least in western cultures (see Heine & Lehman, 1997; Heine,
Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999, on the issue of universality
vs. cultural specificity of the self-enhancement need).

The need for self-enhancement has been proposed as a central


human motivator. Various psychological phenomena, including
recall and processing of self-relevant information, attributions,
self-presentation, and self-evaluations, have been shown to serve
the goal of maintaining or promoting a positive self-concept
(Sedikides & Strube, 1997). Positive views of self serve the need
for self-enhancement, and, in turn, are believed to contribute to
mental health (Taylor & Brown, 1988).
The present study investigated the associations between positive
self-evaluations, via social comparisons (Festinger, 1954) and reflected appraisals (Cooley, 1902), and mental health during a later
life transition. Using data from a longitudinal study of community
relocation, we tracked changes in social comparisons, reflected
appraisals, and well-being over a 2-year period. The multiwave
design allowed for assessment of the associations between dynamic and cross-time social self-evaluative changes and mental
health changes over the course of this transition.

The Need for Self-Enhancement and Its Consequences


Mechanisms for Self-Enhancing Self-Evaluations

Several lines of social psychological research have proposed


and supported the notion that the need for self-enhancement is
central to the regulation of self-evaluative processes. Tessers

On the basis of the premise that others play a prominent role in


various aspects of self-management, a substantial literature exists
to support the self as an interpersonal creation (Markus & Cross,
1990). In relation to self-evaluation, the social world provides an
important context in which people view themselves in relation
to others. By actively interpreting ones abilities, performances
and other experiences vis-a`-vis others, individuals can form
and maintain positive self-evaluations to serve their need for
self-enhancement.
Social comparisons and reflected appraisals are two ways
through which individuals can self-enhance vis-a`-vis others. The
former, originally proposed by Festinger (1954), suggests that
individuals evaluate themselves based on comparison with others.
While the original formulation suggested that the motive for seeking accurate self-relevant information drives social comparisons,
considerable work over the past decades has emphasized how
other motives such as self-enhancement influence the selection of
comparison targets and the direction of comparison (Buunk &
Gibbons, 1997; Suls & Wills, 1991). For instance, Willss (1981)
theory of downward comparison suggested that when peoples

Christine Man Lai Kwan, Department of Psychology, University of


WisconsinMadison; Gayle Dienberg Love, Institute on Aging, University of WisconsinMadison; Carol D. Ryff, Department of Psychology
and Institute on Aging, University of WisconsinMadison; Marilyn J.
Essex, Department of Psychiatry, University of WisconsinMadison.
This research was originally supported by Grant R01AG08979 from the
National Institute on Aging, awarded to Carol D. Ryff and Marilyn J.
Essex, and is currently supported by Grant P50-MH61083 from the National Institute of Mental Health, awarded to Carol D. Ryff and Burton
Singer. Partial reports of these data were presented at the 53rd Annual
Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Washington, DC,
November 2000. We thank Daniel Bolt and Burton Singer for their technical assistance in preparing the manuscript.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Christine
Man Lai Kwan, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin
Madison, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706. E-mail:
cmkwan@wisc.edu
3

KWAN, LOVE, RYFF, AND ESSEX

esteem is under threat, they compare themselves to those inferior


or less fortunate than themselves to protect or increase self-esteem.
While arguing that social comparison processes involve diverse
activities beyond self-evaluations, Taylor and Lobel (1989) agreed
that under conditions of threat, individuals tend to engage in
downward comparison to obtain explicit self-enhancing evaluations to ameliorate self-esteem.
Reflected appraisals, originating with Cooleys (1902) lookingglass self and researchers in the symbolic-interactionist tradition,
emphasize how individuals perceive that others view them. Research on this mechanism has focused on the question of accuracy:
whether self-concepts are related to others actual opinion of
oneself and whether they are related to perception of others
opinion of oneself (Felson, 1993; Shrauger & Schoeneman, 1979).
However, except for Murrays work on the role of reflected appraisals in satisfaction in romantic relationships (Murray, Holmes,
& Griffin, 1996), little work has been conducted to connect reflected appraisals as a mechanism of self-enhancement contributing to good mental health.

Consequences of Self-Enhancing Evaluations


What are the consequences of self-enhancement? Specifically,
when individuals actively seek positive self-evaluations, will they
enjoy higher levels of psychological health? Empirical evidence
suggests an affirmative answer. In their review of the mental health
impact of positive illusions, Taylor and Brown (1988) concluded
that normal individuals tend to make unrealistically positive
self-evaluations (p. 193), which are shown to contribute to higher
levels of happiness and contentment, the ability to care for others,
and the capacity for creative and productive work (for contrary
views, see Colvin & Block, 1994; Colvin, Block, & Funder, 1995).
More recent work on situated optimism (Armor & Taylor, 1998)
suggested that optimistic expectations grounded in reality could
facilitate performance in undertaking personal goals and projects.
By extension, optimistic or self-enhancing evaluations, within
reasonable bounds, may also be beneficial for intrapsychic outcomes such as positive psychological functioning.
Moving to mental maladjustment, research on depression suggests an association between the absence of self-enhancing evaluation, of the self and the world, and depression. Depressives are
found to make more negative social comparisons than do nondepressed people (Ahrens & Alloy, 1997). Moreover, relative to
depressives, nondepressed people are more likely to show selfserving bias in terms of attributing successes to themselves and
failures to their situations (Alloy & Abramson, 1979).
Despite the associations observed for self-enhancement and
mental health, few studies have examined such processes longitudinally in the context of naturally occurring life events. Based on
archival data, one study showed that individuals with comparatively positive self-appraisals during college were less likely to
report negative self-esteem during middle adulthood (Lipkus &
Siegler, 1995). However, the demonstrated cross-time link between self-appraisals and self-esteem was not tested vis-a`-vis an
explicit life challenge. To address this issue, this study investigated
the role of self-enhancing social comparisons and reflected appraisals in successful negotiation of a later life transition. A key
feature of the study is its multiwave research design.

The Role of Self-Enhancing Evaluations in Later Life


Community Relocation
Old age is a period replete with challenge and transition. Widowhood, death of friends and siblings, retirement, change in residence, and decline in physical and cognitive functioning are some
of the normative, and frequently negative, experiences that confront the elderly. Despite these many transitions, the literature on
successful aging documents notable resilience among older adults
(Baltes & Baltes, 1990; Bond, Cutler, & Grams, 1995; Rowe &
Kahn, 1987, 1997; Ryff, Kwan, & Singer, 2001; Schulz & Heckhausen, 1996; Staudinger, Marsiske, & Baltes, 1993). Social gerontologists and life-span developmentalists have been particularly
concerned with identifying the psychosocial factors that promote
successful aging. Resilience, in fact, has been defined as the ability
to maintain or improve well-being in the face of challenging life
transitions (Ryff, Singer, Love, Essex, 1998).
In negotiating the relocation transition, self-enhancing social
comparisons or reflected appraisals are two possible mechanisms
through which individuals might maintain or improve their mental
health. For instance, by making explicit downward social comparisons to less fortunate others, women with breast cancer showed
better adjustment to the disease and enhanced their self-esteem
(Taylor, 1983; Taylor & Lobel, 1989). People also use different
types (active and passive) of downward social comparison to cope
with a variety of threats to well-being (Gibbons & Gerrand, 1991).
Among elderly women experiencing health-related loss, more positive social comparisons were associated with less distress and
higher levels of psychological well-being, especially among those
in poorest health (Heidrich & Ryff, 1993a, 1993b).
Our prior work on community relocation provided preliminary
evidence that such positivity in self-evaluations is, indeed, linked
with higher well-being (Ryff & Essex, 1992). Cross-sectional
analyses after relocation showed that older women who made
positive social comparisons and positive reflected appraisals
showed better psychological adjustment. Kling, Ryff, and Essex
(1997) added longitudinal refinement to the query, showing that
increased self-enhancing evaluations in multiple life domains (e.g.,
daily activities, health) predicted improvement in multiple dimensions of psychological well-being from before the move to 1 to 2
months post move. The analyses controlled for premove levels of
self-enhancement and well-being, and thus they provided evidence
for the contributions of gains in self-evaluations to gains in wellbeing during the relocation transition. However, because postmove
data were collected only shortly after the move, it was unclear
whether the benefits of self-enhancement persisted over the long
term.
In an effort to address this question, the present study extends
the prior investigation by tracking changes in social comparisons,
reflected appraisals, and mental health over a nearly 2-year period
in the same community relocation sample. Thus, it is possible to
evaluate the psychological role of self-enhancing evaluations well
past the initial period of adaptation. Moreover, the multiwave
design allows for assessment of intervening self-enhancing social
comparisons and reflected appraisals and how they are linked with
subsequent changes in mental health. This design allows us to
distinguish the purported causes (change in social comparisons and
reflected appraisals) from purported effects (improvement in psychological functioning) in time, thus affording increased precision

SELF-ENHANCING EVALUATIONS

to test the effects of self-enhancing evaluations on mental health in


a real-life transition. We hypothesize that increased levels of social
comparisons and reflected appraisals will predict improvement in
mental health over the nearly 2-year course of the transition.
However, despite these guiding predictions, it is possible that
changes in mental health also predict improved self-evaluative
processes. That is, the inferred directional influences may operate
in more than one way. To exploit the power of our multiwave
design, we conducted additional regression analyses to evaluate
the evidence for this alternative. The point of these additional
analyses was to extract maximal information from our four-wave
design to ascertain the nature of cross-time directional dynamics
between self-enhancement processes and mental health.

Method
Sample
The sample consisted of 301 participants from the Wisconsin Study of
Community Relocation (RELOC; Kling et al., 1997; Kling, Seltzer, &
Ryff, 1997; Ryff & Essex, 1992; Smider, Essex, & Ryff, 1996). Criteria for
eligibility and procedure for participant recruitment were detailed in Kling
et al. (1997).
All participants completed four waves of data collection: Most T1
assessments (87%) were conducted at least 1 month (Mdn 4 months,
range 1 to 33 months) before the move date. The three postmove
assessments were conducted at approximately 12 months (T2), 7 8
months (T3), and 14 15 months (T4) after the move. Because 35 (12%) of
the 301 participants reported missing data in at least one of the study
variables, the final sample for the present study was reduced to 266 women
(88%) who provided complete data for all four waves of assessments.
In terms of demographic background at T1, the women in the final
sample were, on average, 69 years old (SD 8) and had completed 14
years of education (SD 3). About half of the participants were widowed,
27% were married or living with a partner, 13% were divorced, 8% were
never married or not living with a partner, and 1% was separated. The
majority of the participants (98%) were White. Prior to their moves, most
participants owned a home (56%) and lived alone (66%). Finally, most
participants were healthy, as indicated by their mean rating of 5.22
(SD 1.03) on their overall health on a scale of 1 ( poor) to 7 (excellent).
Participants in the final sample and those excluded from it were comparable with respect to the above background characteristics at T1 except that
the latter were slightly older (M 72, SD 8; t 1.89, p .06).
All participants reported strong reasons for needing to relocate. High
costs of home (e.g., taxes, utilities, maintenance), that the home is larger
than needed, and the desire for a safer, more secure place to live were rated
by the highest percentages of participants (41%, 40.6%, and 38%, respectively) as moderately or extremely important reasons for moving. In
terms of the extent to which relocation was the participants idea rather
than someone elses, a summary index of involuntariness on a 9 54 scale
was created by summing the ratings from nine items of involuntariness on
a 1 6 scale. Higher scores indicated higher levels of involuntariness. On
average, the participants were quite voluntary in their decision to relocate,
as indicated by the relatively low average score on the summary index
(M 19.43, SD 6.71).

Procedures and Design


Each RELOC assessment consisted of a 2-hr home interview by a female
interviewer and completion of a self-administered questionnaire. All data
on self-enhancement and mental health came from the self-administered
questionnaire. In this study, we first considered the contribution of selfevaluative processes to mental health in the course of relocation in terms of

T1 to T4 changes in psychological well-being and depressive symptoms.


Changes in self-enhancing evaluations from T1 to T2 and T2 to T3 were
used to predict cross-time gains (or losses) in mental health. In an effort to
evaluate evidence for the alternative causal framework, additional nomothetic analyses used changes in mental health from T1 to T2 and T2 to T3
to predict cross-time changes in self-enhancing evaluations from T1 to T4.

Measures
Self-enhancing evaluations. Based on Rosenbergs (1979) self-concept
theory, measures of self-enhancing evaluations were constructed (Ryff &
Essex, 1992). Participants were asked to evaluate themselves based on their
perceptions of how they fare when compared with others in their social
environment (social comparisons) and their perceived feedback from others about themselves (reflected appraisals). Each kind of evaluation was
measured by four items balanced between negative and positive phrasing
framed in five life domains, including health, friends, daily activities,
family, and economics, resulting in a 20-item scale. A strongly disagree (1)
to strongly agree (6) response format was adopted. A sample item of social
comparisons in the friends domain was I feel my relationships with my
friends are closer than most peoples are. A sample item of reflected
appraisals in the health domain was My friends and family give me the
impression that my health is failing.
This scale was used in previous studies of RELOC data and has shown
good reliability (Ryff & Essex, 1992; Kling et al., 1997). In the present
study, strong reliability coefficients were obtained for each subscale as
follows: alpha coefficients .80 at T1, .81 at T2, and .83 at T3 for reflected
appraisals, and alpha coefficients .81 at T1, .84 at T2, and .84 at T3 for
social comparisons. Higher scores indicate higher levels of social comparisons and reflected appraisals.
Confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to assess whether social
comparisons and reflected appraisals could be parsimoniously represented
by a composite 40-item self-enhancing evaluations scale. A one-factor
model and a two-factor model were fitted to 10 domain-specific subscale
scores, 5 specific to social comparisons and 5 specific to reflected appraisals. Error variances between subscale scores of the same life domains were
allowed to be correlated. Results revealed that the two-factor model provided a significantly better fit than the one-factor model, 2(1) 24.77,
p .001. In addition, given the sample size and number of model
parameters, the two-factor model provided an excellent fit to the data
(root-mean-square error of approximation .047). Thus, social comparisons and reflected appraisals were examined separately in subsequent
analyses.
Psychological well-being. Positive mental health was assessed using
Ryffs six scales of psychological well-being; (Ryff, 1989a, 1989b; Ryff &
Keyes, 1995). Derived from the literatures on life-span development,
mental health, and personal growth, these cover multiple dimensions of
positive psychological functioning, including positive relations with others,
autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, personal growth, and
self-acceptance. Shortened versions (14-item scales) of the original scales
were used in the present study. Satisfactory internal reliability was obtained
(alpha coefficients ranged from .77 to .85 at T1, and from .81 to .90 at T4).
Items for the scales were mixed into a single self-report inventory administered according to a strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (6) response
format.
To minimize content overlap between self-evaluations and psychological well-being, we removed psychological well-being items that connote
social-comparison or reflected-appraisal activities from the scales. As a
result, the scales for positive relations with others and self-acceptance
consisted of only 11 items for the present analyses.
Depressive symptoms. Negative mental health was assessed with the
Center for Epidemiological StudiesDepression scale (CESD; Radloff,
1977). This 20-item measure assesses depressed mood or affect rather than
clinical depression. Reliability was satisfactory at T1 ( .82) and T4 (
.89). One item with connotation of social comparison was dropped to

KWAN, LOVE, RYFF, AND ESSEX

Table 1 shows the means and standard deviations of the two


self-evaluative measures and mental health at all four waves of
data collection. In terms of the predictor variables, a repeatedmeasures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant differences among the four measurements of social comparisons and
reflected appraisals. Both self-evaluative measures followed a
generally upward trend until T3 and then declined. Specifically,
pairwise comparisons showed that social comparisons were more
positive at T2 than T1, F(1, 265) 5.26, p .05. However, they
became less positive from T3 to T4, F(1, 265) 6.89, p .001.
Similarly, reflected appraisals were more positive at T2 than T1,
F(1, 265) 4.67, p .05, and more positive at T3 than T2, F(1,
265) 5.74, p .05. However, they became less positive from T3
to T4, F(1, 265) 14.20, p .001.
In terms of the mental health variables, a repeated-measures
ANOVA indicated significant differences among the four measurements of all dimensions of psychological well-being and
CESD. Pairwise comparisons of T1 and T4 assessments revealed
significant improvements in environmental mastery, F(1,
265) 26.58, p .001, and self-acceptance, F(1, 265) 10.11,
p .01, as well as declines in CESD, F(1, 265) 20.33, p
.001, from before relocation to 14 15 months after relocation.
Comparing assessments at one time point to the next, it appeared
that mental health generally improved from before relocation to T3
and then deteriorated. Specifically, all variables except positive
relations significantly increased from T1 to T2 (F ratios ranging
from 8.31 to 46.92). From T2 to T3, autonomy continued to
increase significantly, F(1, 265) 4.94, p .05, and CESD
continued to decrease significantly, F(1, 265) 6.03, p .05.
From T3 to T4, all aspects of mental health except self-acceptance
worsened (F ratios ranging from 4.05 to 23.28).

minimize content overlap with self-evaluations, resulting in a 19-item scale


for the present analyses.
Control variables. Age and years of education, marital status, subjective health ratings, home ownership, and involuntariness of making the
move were included as control variables in all regression analyses.
Age and educational attainment have been shown to relate to different
profiles of psychological well-being (Ryff & Singer, 1998b) and were
expected to affect psychological adaptation to the relocation transition.
Thus, we controlled for age and years of education.
Marital status has been shown to relate to psychological functioning in
later life. Divorced and widowed elderly individuals are likely to show
lower levels of psychological wellness than married individuals (Goldscheider, 1994; Mendes, Kasl, & Jacob, 1994; Thuen, Reime, & Skrautvoll,
1997). We anticipated that the spouses of married individuals were better
able to provide immediate support and help reduce stress during the
relocation transition. To control for such effects, marital status (0 not
currently married; 1 married or living with a partner) was coded as a
dichotomous variable and used as a control variable.
Physical health has an important effect on life quality in later life. Poor
health is associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety and lower
levels of well-being (Heidrich, 1993). Thus, we controlled for the respondents rating of overall health at T1.
Factors specific to the decision to relocate were also expected to have a
general effect on psychological adaptation. We anticipated that, compared
to renters, home owners had greater difficulty in moving to a new environment because they were more likely to have had lived in the same
residence for a long time. Thus, home ownership (0 nonowner; 1
owner) was coded as dichotomous variables and was controlled for. In
addition, compared with those who made their own decision to move
voluntarily, those who felt that they were pressured by others to do so were
expected to show poorer adaptation. Thus, we controlled for involuntariness of making the move.

Results
Cross-Time Mean Level Analyses

Correlational Analyses of Outcome Variables

To reiterate, the present study sought to investigate the connections between social self-evaluations and mental health. The first
analyses examined cross-time mean-level differences in the predictor and outcome variables. The key predictors, social comparisons and reflected appraisals, were considered dynamically across
time (T1T2, T2T3). Changes in psychological well-being and
CESD from T1 to T4 were the outcome variables.

The second analyses examined correlations among mental


health variables at T1 and T4 as well as across time. Table 2 reveals
two important observations. First, cross-time correlations of all six
well-being dimensions were strong (ranging from r .73 to .80),
suggesting that participants relative positions with respect to these
aspects of positive functioning were largely unchanged before

Table 1
Self-Evaluations and Mental Health From T1 Through T4: Means and Standard Deviations (N 266)
T1

T2

T3

T4

Subscale

SD

SD

SD

SD

Fa

Social Comparisons
Reflected Appraisals
Positive Relations
Autonomy
Environmental Mastery
Personal Growth
Purpose in Life
Self-Acceptance
CESD

82.38
89.41
53.84
62.07
64.74
67.62
64.48
49.99
10.19

13.39
12.19
8.31
8.71
8.80
9.28
9.66
8.21
7.48

83.67
90.41
54.48
63.20
67.39
69.00
65.88
51.43
8.00

13.75
12.71
7.99
9.26
9.19
9.27
9.79
8.17
6.99

83.96
91.47
54.79
64.06
67.93
68.92
65.86
51.64
7.02

13.76
12.56
8.17
9.19
9.28
9.21
9.83
8.24
7.06

82.72
89.96
53.86
62.52
66.81
67.25
64.24
51.07
8.00

13.74
12.82
8.21
8.91
9.17
9.57
10.13
8.26
8.30

4.25**
7.47***
4.16*
10.25***
27.49***
12.85***
10.77***
10.05***
16.87***

Note. CESD Center for Epidemiological StudiesDepression Scale.


F-ratios were generated from repeated-measures analysis of variance and were based on df (3, 795).
* p .05. ** p .01. *** p .001.

SELF-ENHANCING EVALUATIONS

Table 2
Correlations Among Mental Health Variables at T1 and T4 (N 266)
Variable
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.

T1PR
T1AU
T1EM
T1PG
T1PL
T1SA
T1CESD
T4PR
T4AU
T4EM
T4PG
T4PL
T4SA
T4CESD

10

11

12

13

14

.20
.48
.36
.50
.54
.31
.80
.16
.46
.33
.45
.48
.34

.35
.39
.32
.36
.16
.29
.78
.39
.40
.35
.42
.23

.40
.65
.66
.49
.53
.32
.73
.37
.58
.61
.47

.63
.40
.18
.35
.33
.36
.80
.56
.39
.17

.71
.37
.51
.28
.52
.55
.77
.59
.36

.42
.50
.32
.55
.39
.63
.77
.40

.31
.12
.37
.08
.31
.40
.50

.30
.63
.42
.58
.62
.35

.47
.44
.40
.46
.14

.48
.70
.75
.54

.70
.54
.17

.77
.44

.50

Note. PR Positive Relations with others, AU Autonomy, EM Environmental Mastery, PG Personal Growth, PL Purpose in Life, SA
Self-Acceptance, CESD Center for Epidemiological StudiesDepression Scale. Correlations with an absolute value larger than .20 are significant at
p .001. Correlations with an absolute value larger than .16 are significant at p .01. Correlations with an absolute value larger than .12 are significant
at p .05.

relocation and 14 15 months after relocation. The cross-time


correlation of CESD was weaker (r .50), however, suggesting
less stability in participants relative positions in terms of having
depressing symptoms. Second, regarding relationships among
mental health variables at a given time point, at both T1 and T4, the
strongest associations were observed for purpose in life with
self-acceptance (at T1, r .71; at T4, r .77), environmental
mastery (at T1, r .65; at T4, r .70), and personal growth (at T1,
r .63; at T4, r .70). Cross-time associations among these
particular well-being dimensions were weaker than their timeconvergent counterparts but were still stronger relative to those
among other mental health variables.
Regression analyses, to be presented in the following section,
will examine whether differential patterns of mean-level and
relative-ordering change and stability in mental health over the
course of relocation were accounted for by changes in social
comparisons and reflected appraisals during the transition, after
controlling for the effect of background differences.

Regression Analyses: Testing the Guiding Theoretical


Framework
Four sets of hierarchical regression analyses tested our guiding
hypothesis that self-evaluations vis-a`-vis others predicted mental
health. For each set of analyses, a full regression equation was
fitted for each of the six dimensions of psychological well-being
and CESD. In each regression equation, T4 mental health assessment was the outcome variable. Predictor variables entered at
Step 1 included T1 scores of the respective mental health assessment (to enable assessment of change across time) and T1 social
comparisons or reflected appraisals (to control for premove level
of the respective measure). T1 background differences (age, years
of education, marital status, subjective health ratings, home ownership, and involuntariness of making the move) were entered at
Step 2 as control variables. Hence, all four sets of analyses evaluated the impact of temporally intervening improvements (or
declines) in social comparisons or reflected appraisals on subse-

quent mental health changes, after the effect of premove background differences were partialed out.
To examine the effect of early changes (T1T2) in selfevaluations on mental health changes over the course of relocation
(T1T4), we added T2 social comparisons or reflected appraisals at
Step 3 as the key predictor variable in two sets of analyses.1 The
various baseline measures entered at Steps 1 and 2 accounted for
considerable amount of variance of all dimensions of well-being
(for social comparisons, R2 .58 to .69, p .001; for reflected
appraisals, R2 .59 to .69, p .001) and CESD (for both
self-evaluative measures, R2 .37, p .001). With regard to the
residualized variance, Table 3 revealed that T2 social comparisons
significantly predicted improvements in all dimensions of wellbeing except purpose in life. On the other hand, T2 reflected
appraisals were associated with fewer dimensions of well-being,
namely, only positive relations and environmental mastery. Finally, neither self-evaluative measures in the early period of relocation were related to changes in depressive symptoms.
Table 4 shows findings from Step 3 of another two sets of
analyses on the effect of late changes (T2T3) in social comparisons and reflected appraisals on the same outcomes.2 Here T2
social comparisons or reflected appraisals were entered at Step 1 to
partial out the effect of the change in the respective measure from
shortly after the move to approximately 7 8 months later. After
both T1 and T2 social comparisons or reflected appraisals as well
as background differences were controlled at Steps 1 and 2, T3
1
In checking whether these analyses met the assumptions of multiple
regression, evidence of heteroscedasticity was found in the equations for
CESD. To address this issue, we normalized T1 and T4 CES-D distributions by taking the square root of the scale scores before using them in
regression analyses. This procedure yielded homogeneous residual variances over the range of predicted CESD values.
2
Evidence of heteroscedasticity was again observed in regression equations for CESD. T1 and T4 CESD were taken square root before being
used in regression analyses to resolve this issue.

KWAN, LOVE, RYFF, AND ESSEX

Table 3
Regression Analyses: Effect of T1 to T2 Changes in Social Comparisons and Reflected
Appraisals on T1 to T4 Changes in Psychological Well-Being and Depression (N 266)
Social comparisons

Reflected appraisals

Outcome variable

R2

Positive Relations
Autonomy
Environmental Mastery
Personal Growth
Purpose in Life
Self-Acceptance
CESDa

.094
.103
.152
.130
.062
.107
.009

.158
.160
.227
.187
.084
.178
.084

.010**
.010**
.020***
.013***
.003
.012**
.003

.158
.079
.161
.044
.038
.049
.008

.245
.112
.224
.059
.047
.075
.069

.019***
.004
.016***
.001
.001
.002
.002

Note. Only results at Step 3 are shown.


a
T1 and T4 Center for Epidemiological StudiesDepression scale (CESD) scores were converted to square
root values before being used in the regression equations.
p .10. ** p .01. *** p .001.

self-evaluative assessment was added at Step 3 as the key predictor


variable.
The various baseline measures entered at Steps 1 and 2 of these
analyses accounted for considerable amount of variance of all
dimensions of well-being (for both self-evaluative measures, R2
.60 to .70, p .001) and CESD (for both self-evaluative measures, R2 .37, p .001). Table 4 shows that T3 social comparisons accounted for significant portions of residualized variance of
environmental mastery, purpose in life, self-acceptance, and
CESD. On the other hand, late reflected-appraisal changes were
related to more aspects of mental health relative to its early
counterpart. Specifically, T3 reflected appraisals significantly explained residualized variance of all mental health outcomes except
autonomy.
Together these four sets of analyses support our hypothesis that
increased levels of social comparisons and reflected appraisals
were associated with improved mental health over the course of
relocation. Early social comparisons predicted more dimensions of
well-being than did early reflected appraisals. However, reflected
appraisals showed increased connections with various well-being
dimensions in the late period. Lastly, although well-being was
generally related to social comparisons and reflected appraisals in

both early and late periods of relocation, depressive symptoms


were predicted by these measures only in the late period.

Regression Analyses: Evidence for Reverse Causal


Directionality
To address the possibility that changes in mental health also
influenced self-evaluative processes, we conducted four sets of
hierarchical regressions. These analyses were similar to those in
the previous section except that the predictor and outcome variables were reversed, that is, here the mental health measures were
predictors, whereas the self-evaluative measures were the criterion
variables. These analyses used the same control variables.
Table 5 shows the effect of early changes (T1T2) in each
measure of mental health on changes in social comparisons and
reflected appraisals over the course of relocation (T1T4). Similar
results were observed for the two self-evaluative measures. Specifically, early gains in environmental mastery and self-acceptance
were strongly predictive of increases in social comparisons and
reflected appraisals. Early changes in all other mental health variables except personal growth showed relatively weaker but still

Table 4
Regression Analyses: Effect of T2 to T3 Changes in Social Comparisons and Reflected
Appraisals on T1 to T4 Changes in Psychological Well-Being and Depression (N 266)
Social comparisons
Outcome variable

Positive Relations
Autonomy
Environmental Mastery
Personal Growth
Purpose in Life
Self-Acceptance
CESDa

.037
.015
.192
.042
.166
.127
.035

.061
.023
.287
.060
.213
.211
.330

Reflected appraisals
R2

.001
.001
.019***
.001
.011**
.010**
.025***

.091
.017
.238
.161
.293
.242
.037

.140
.024
.326
.212
.363
.367
.321

R2
.005*
.001
.025***
.011**
.030***
.032***
.024**

Note. Only results at Step 3 are shown.


a
T1 and T4 Center for Epidemiological StudiesDepression scale (CESD) scores were taken square root
before being used in the regression equations.
* p .05. ** p .01. *** p .001.

SELF-ENHANCING EVALUATIONS

Table 5
Regression Analyses: Effect of T1 to T2 Changes in Psychological Well-Being and Depression on
T1 to T4 Changes in Social Comparisons and Reflected Appraisals (N 266)
Social comparisons

Reflected appraisals

Predictor variable

R2

Positive Relations
Autonomy
Environmental Mastery
Personal Growth
Purpose in Life
Self-Acceptance
CESD

.255
.144
.340
.128
.241
.430
.158

.151
.099
.232
.088
.175
.261
.082

.009**
.004
.022***
.003
.011**
.023***
.005

.192
.167
.330
.118
.238
.347
.154

.120
.121
.237
.085
.181
.221
.084

.006*
.006*
.023***
.003
.011**
.016***
.005*

Note. Only results at Step 3 are shown. CESD Center for Epidemiological StudiesDepression scale.
p .10. * p .05. ** p .01. *** p .001.

significant associations with changes in social comparisons and


reflected appraisals.
Comparing these results to those on Table 3, it appears that
social comparisons and well-being are both reciprocally or unidirectionally related, depending on the well-being dimension under
consideration. In particular, strong reciprocal relationships were
found for social comparisons with positive relations, environmental mastery, and self-acceptance. However, social comparisons
strongly predicted personal growth, but not the reverse, suggesting
social-comparison changes as an antecedent to, rather than a consequence of, personal-growth changes. Also, purpose in life was
fairly predictive of social comparisons, but not the reverse, suggesting social-comparison changes as a consequence of changes in
life purpose.
Different patterns of causality characterized reflected appraisals.
Specifically, while reflected appraisals and environmental mastery
showed strong reciprocal relationship, stronger evidence was
found for reflected appraisals predicting positive relations than the
reverse. Finally, reflected appraisals were significantly predicted
by all other mental health variables except personal growth, but not
the reverse, implying reflected-appraisal change as a consequence
of changes in these particular aspects of mental health.
Table 6 shows the effect of late changes (T2T3) in each
measure of mental health on changes in social comparisons and
reflected appraisals over the course of relocation (T1T4). Again,

similar results were found for both self-evaluative measures.


Changes in all mental health variables except autonomy predicted
changes in social comparisons and reflected appraisals, with the
strongest evidence found for environmental mastery.
Comparing these results to those on Table 4, the causal direction
for all significant relationships between each of the self-evaluative
measures and mental health variables appears to go both ways with
two exceptions. First, personal growth was somewhat predictive of
social comparisons, but not the reverse, indicating that socialcomparison changes followed personal-growth changes. Second,
the evidence for reflected appraisals predicting self-acceptance
was considerably stronger than that for the reverse directionality,
indicating that reflected-appraisal changes likely preceded rather
than followed self-acceptance changes.

Discussion
This study examined the connection between self-enhancing
evaluations and psychological health in a later life transition,
community relocation. Our guiding conceptual framework was
that self-enhancing social comparisons and reflected appraisals
would be associated with gains in psychological well-being and
declines in depressive symptoms. Generally, the findings revealed
that older women who showed increased levels of social comparisons and reflected appraisals evidenced considerable gains in

Table 6
Regression Analyses: Effect of T2 to T3 Changes in Psychological Well-Being and Depression on
T1 to T4 Changes in Social Comparisons and Reflected Appraisals (N 266)
Social comparisons

Reflected appraisals

Predictor variable

R2

Positive Relations
Autonomy
Environmental Mastery
Personal Growth
Purpose in Life
Self-Acceptance
CESD

.202
.089
.316
.248
.266
.244
.211

.123
.061
.218
.170
.194
.149
.111

.004
.001
.014***
.008*
.010**
.007*
.007*

.249
.057
.239
.292
.218
.179
.212

.159
.041
.173
.210
.168
.115
.117

.007*
.001
.009**
.012**
.007**
.004
.008**

Note. Only results at Step 3 are shown. CESD Center for Epidemiological StudiesDepression scale.
p .10. * p .05. ** p .01. *** p .001.

10

KWAN, LOVE, RYFF, AND ESSEX

multiple dimensions of psychological well-being as well as reductions of depression symptoms over the course of relocation. These
effects were found after controlling for age, education, marital
status, home ownership, subjective health ratings, involuntariness
of making the move, and premove levels of all psychological
variables.
While self-enhancement during this transition showed generally
strong connections to subsequent psychological changes, interesting patterns emerged regarding the differential actions of social
comparisons and reflected appraisals in early (T1T2) versus late
(T2T3) periods of the transition. Specifically, social comparisons
in both periods were linked to an encompassing variety of aspects
of psychological adaptation, suggesting that comparison processes
were active throughout the transition and had pervasive connections to mental health. Underscoring different evaluative processes, reflected appraisals were associated with gains in only
limited aspects of mental health in the early period, with their more
encompassing connections to mental health emerging later. To the
extent that reflected appraisals require knowing other people and
letting other people know oneself, this evaluative mechanism may
be used less frequently in the initial period of the move. It was
further into relocation (i.e., 1 month to 8 months after move) when
perception of feedback from others became more consequential for
most aspects of mental health.
Moving beyond our guiding conceptual framework, we also
examined the possibility that changes in mental health might
predict changes in self-evaluations. In fact, other studies have
suggested that mental health could be legitimately construed as an
antecedent to emotional reactions to relocation (Smider et al.,
1996). Here, a comparison of alternative regression models suggested that for select aspects of mental health, reciprocal causal
directionality indeed appeared to be operative. In particular, regardless of the temporal period, strong evidence of reciprocal
influence was observed for social comparisons with environmental
mastery and self-acceptance, suggesting that while higher levels of
self-enhancing social comparisons contributed to increased mastery of environmental challenges and increased self-acceptance,
these aspects of psychological wellness also led to higher levels of
self-enhancement via comparison processes. Likewise, regardless
of the temporal period, strong evidence of reciprocal influence was
found for reflected appraisals and environmental mastery, indicating that while increased self-enhancing reflected appraisals contributed to gains in environmental mastery, such gains in turn led
to perception of more positive social feedback. Overall, the apparent reciprocal influence between environmental mastery and both
evaluative mechanisms highlighted the fact that relocation is essentially a transition that requires adapting to and managing
changes in a new living environment. It appears that positive
self-construals via both evaluative mechanisms could help one
negotiate the many challenges associated with this transition (e.g.,
creating new daily routines; using resources available in the new
home), whereas being able to manage the new environment could,
in turn, lead to positive comparisons with others and perception of
positive social feedback about oneself.
The present study provides two contributions to the literature of
self-enhancement. First, given that much prior work in selfenhancing mechanisms has focused on social comparisons (Buunk
& Gibbons, 1997; Suls & Wills, 1991), this study is unique in
highlighting reflected appraisals as an additional avenue through

which individuals may self-enhance when evaluating themselves


vis-a`-vis others. In fact, despite the strong correlations between
social comparisons and reflected appraisals, the two mechanisms
showed differential connections to mental health. Relative to social
comparisons, reflected appraisals operated in a different temporal
framework in that its ability to predict most aspects of mental
health did not emerge until later in the relocation transition. Second, by addressing the possibility of reverse causality, this study
goes beyond the often-assumed model of self-enhancing processes
influencing mental health (Ahrens & Alloy, 1997; Taylor &
Brown, 1988) to assess evidence for the reverse causal direction.
The findings point to environmental mastery as a key dimension of
mental health that reciprocally influenced self-enhancement in the
context of community relocation.
A limitation of the present study pertains to potential respondent
bias (Schmutte & Ryff, 1997). All data on social comparisons,
reflected appraisals, and mental health came from the same respondents, some of whom may respond to questionnaire items
based on a generally positive or negative bias rather than item
content, thereby contributing to exaggerated associations among
the study variables. In addition, respondents self-report could be
discrepant from objective reality. Specific to self-evaluations, the
data did not permit determination of whether participants comparisons and reflected appraisals reflect illusory or accurate selfassessment. For instance, a womans reported high level of social
comparisons and reflected appraisals may have resulted from inflated or positively distorted perceptions of herself and others, or
accurate, reality-based perceptions. To clarify the influence of
these possibilities, an independent measure of evaluative accuracy
is needed. This might be tapped by asking participants to specify
their comparison targets, our sources of reflected appraisals, and
then assess the extent to which the respondents self-evaluations
are consistent with independent evaluations from these other observers. Given the possibility that heightened self-enhancement
may reflect illusory understanding of the self and the world, more
objective data on social comparisons (how well the respondent
actually fares relative to comparison targets) and reflected appraisals (how well specific others actually perceive the respondent)
would help differentiate idealized versus reality-based selfevaluations and how they impact mental health (Asendorpf &
Ostendorf, 1998; Colvin & Block, 1994; Colvin, Block, & Funder,
1995; Taylor & Brown, 1988). With respect to mental health,
professional or others evaluations of respondents psychological
functioning could help validate self-report assessment and contribute to an integrative mental health profile (Ryff et al., 2001).
We underscore that the absence of illness is not equal to the
presence of wellness (Ryff & Singer, 1998a). Therefore, in linking
self-enhancement to mental health, our focus is jointly on betterment of positive psychological functioning as well as mitigation of
mental health problems. In fact, positive and negative aspects of
mental health showed both unique and shared patterns of connections with self-enhancement. For instance, whereas positive psychological functioning was generally predicted by early selfevaluations, depressive symptoms were not. Thus, by assessing
mental health in terms of both gains in psychological well-being
and relief of depressive symptoms, the present study sought to
clarify the role of a broad array of mental health dimensions in
later life community relocation.

SELF-ENHANCING EVALUATIONS

To conclude, this study highlighted the roles of self-enhancing


social comparisons and reflected appraisals as well as mental
health in later life transitions. The findings suggested that selfenhancing evaluations appear not only to influence, but are influenced by good mental health. Such intricate connections observed
for self-enhancing evaluations and mental health underscored the
strength of multiwave longitudinal design in evaluating reciprocal
causal relationships in naturally occurring life transitions.

References
Ahrens, A. H., & Alloy, L. B. (1997). Social comparison processes in
depression. In B. P. Buunk & F. X. Gibbons (Eds.), Health, coping, and
well-being (pp. 389 410). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Alloy, L. B., & Abramson, L. Y. (1979). Judgment of contingency in
depressed and nondepressed students: Sadder but wiser? Journal of
Experimental Psychology: General, 108, 441 485.
Armor, D. A., & Taylor, S. E. (1998). Situated optimism: Specific outcome
expectancies and self-regulation. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 309 379.
Asendorpf, J. B., & Ostendorf, F. (1998). Is self-enhancement healthy?
Conceptual, psychometric, and empirical analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 955966.
Baltes, P. B., & Baltes, M. M. (1990). Psychological perspectives on
successful aging: The model of selective optimization with compensation. In P. B. Baltes & M. M. Baltes (Eds.), Successful aging: Perspectives from the behavioral sciences (pp. 134). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Bond, L. A., Cutler, S. J., & Grams, A. (Eds.). (1995). Promoting successful and productive aging. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Buunk, B. P., & Gibbons, F. X. (1997). Health, coping, and well-being:
Perspective from social comparison theory. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Colvin, C. R., & Block, J. (1994). Do positive illusions foster mental
health? An examination of the Taylor and Brown formulation. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 320.
Colvin, C. R., Block, J., & Funder, D. C. (1995). Overly positive selfevaluations and personality: Negative implications for mental health.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 11521162.
Cooley, C. H. (1902). Human nature and the social order. New York:
Scribner.
Felson, R. B. (1993). The (somewhat) social self: How others affect
self-appraisals. In J. M. Suls (Ed.), The self in social perspective:
Psychological perspectives on the self (Vol. 4, pp. 126). Hillsdale, NJ:
Erlbaum.
Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human
Relations, 7, 117140.
Gibbons, F. X., & Gerrand, M. (1991). Downward comparison and coping
with threat. In J. Suls & T. A. Wills (Eds.), Social comparison: Contemporary theory and research (pp. 317345). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Goldscheider, F. K. (1994). Divorce and remarriage: Effects on the elderly
population. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, 4, 253259.
Greenwald, A. G. (1980). The totalitarian ego: Fabrication and revision of
personal history. American Psychologist, 35, 603 618.
Heidrich, S. M. (1993). The relationship between physical health and
psychological well-being in elderly women: A developmental perspective. Research in Nursing and Health, 16, 123130.
Heidrich, S. M., & Ryff, C. D. (1993a). Physical and mental health in later
life: The self-system as mediator. Psychology and Aging, 8, 327338.
Heidrich, S. M., & Ryff, C. D. (1993b). The role of social comparison
processes in the psychological adaptation of elderly adults. Journal of
Gerontology, 48, P127P136.
Heine, S. H., & Lehman, D. R. (1997). The cultural construction of
self-enhancement: An examination of group-serving biases. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1268 1283.

11

Heine, S. H., Lehman, D. R., Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is


there a universal need for positive self-regard? Psychological Review,
106, 766 794.
Kling, K. C., Ryff, C. D., & Essex, M. J. (1997). Adaptive changes in the
self-concept during a life transition. Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, 23, 989 998.
Kling, K. C., Seltzer, M. M., & Ryff, C. D. (1997). Distinctive late life
challenges: Implications for coping and well-being. Psychology and
Aging, 12, 288 295.
Lipkus, I. M., & Siegler, I. C. (1995). Do comparative self-appraisals
during young adulthood predict adult personality? Psychology and Aging, 10, 229 237.
Markus, H., & Cross, S. (1990). The interpersonal self. In L. A. Pervin
(Ed.), Handbook of personality theory and research (pp. 576 608).
New York: Guilford Press.
Mendes de Leon, C. F., Kasl, S. V, & Jacobs, S. (1994). A prospective
study of widowhood and changes in symptoms of depression in a
community sample of the elderly. Psychological Medicine, 24, 613 624.
Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., & Griffin, D. W. (1996). The benefits of
positive illusions: Idealization and construction of satisfaction in close
relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 79 98.
Radloff, L. (1977). The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for
research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385 401.
Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York: Basic Books.
Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1987, June 10). Human aging: Usual and
successful. Science, 237, 143149.
Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1997). Successful aging. Gerontologist, 37,
433 440.
Ryff, C. D. (1989a). Beyond Ponce de Leon and life satisfaction: New
directions in quest of successful aging. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 12, 3555.
Ryff, C. D. (1989b). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the
meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 57, 1069 1081.
Ryff, C. D., & Essex, M. J. (1992). The interpretation of life experiences
and well-being: The sample case of relocation. Psychology and Aging, 7,
507517.
Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological
well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69,
719 727.
Ryff, C. D., Kwan, C. M. L., & Singer, B (2001). Personality and aging:
Flourishing agendas and future challenges. In J. E. Birren & K. W.
Schaie (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of aging (5th ed., pp.
477 497). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (1998a). The contours of positive human health.
Psychological Inquiry, 9(1), 128.
Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (1998b). Middle age and well-being. In H. S.
Friedman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of mental health (pp. 707719). San
Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Ryff, C. D., Singer, B., Love, G. D., & Essex, M. J. (1998). Resilience in
adulthood and later life: Defining features and dynamic processes. In J.
Lomranz (Ed.), Handbook of aging and mental health: An integrative
approach (pp. 69 96). New York: Plenum.
Schmutte, P. S., & Ryff, C. D. (1997). Personality and well-being: Reexamining methods and meanings. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 73, 549 559.
Schulz, R., & Heckhausen, J. (1996). A life span model of successful
aging. American Psychologist, 51, 702714.
Sedikides, C., & Strube, M. J. (1997). Self-evaluation: To thine own self be
good, to thine own self be sure, to thine own self be true, and to thine
own self be better. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental
social psychology (Vol. 29, pp. 209 269). New York: Academic Press.
Shrauger, J. S., & Schoeneman, T. J. (1979). Symbolic interactionist view

12

KWAN, LOVE, RYFF, AND ESSEX

of self-concept: Through the looking glass darkly. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 549 573.
Smider, N. A., Essex, M. J., & Ryff, C. D. (1996). Adaptation to community relocation: The interactive influence of psychological resources and
contextual factors. Psychology and Aging, 11, 362372.
Staudinger, U. M., Marsiske, M., & Baltes, P. B. (1993). Resilience and
levels of reserve capacity in later adulthood: Perspectives from life-span
theory. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 541566.
Suls, J., & Wills, T. A. (1991). Social comparison: Contemporary theory
and research. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Taylor, S. E. (1983). Adjustment to threatening events: A theory of
cognitive adaptation. American Psychologist, 38, 11611173.
Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social
psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103,
193210.

Taylor, S. E., & Lobel, M. (1989). Social comparison activity under threat:
Downward evaluation and upward contacts. Psychological Review, 96,
569 575.
Tesser, A. (1988). Toward a self-evaluation maintenance model of social
behavior. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 21, pp. 181227). New York: Academic Press.
Thuen, F., Reime, M. H., & Skrautvoll, K. (1997). The effect of widowhood on psychological well-being and social support in the oldest group
of the elderly. Journal of Mental Health UK, 6, 265274.
Wills, T. A. (1981). Downward comparison principles in social psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 245271.

Received August 29, 2000


Revision received February 28, 2002
Accepted April 24, 2002