Day-to-Day Variability in Subjective Age and Ageist Attitudes and Their Association with Depressive Symptoms

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: Evidence of daily fluctuations in subjective age and their association with older adults' well-being was recently obtained. Yet, neither the simultaneous tracking of two daily views on aging (i.e., daily subjective age and daily ageist attitudes) nor their interactive effect on mental health (i.e., depressive symptoms) has been explored. We hypothesized that (a) at days on which older adults feel older or report high ageist attitudes they would report higher depressive symptoms, (b) combined older subjective age and high ageist attitudes will be associated with the highest daily depressive symptoms. Method: Community-dwelling older adults (N = 134, mean age = 69.66) completed measures of subjective age, ageist attitudes, and depressive symptoms for 10 consecutive days. Results: Daily older subjective age and higher ageist attitudes were related to higher depressive symptoms, but there was no combined effect of both on depressive symptoms. There was a significant three-way interaction between subjective age, ageist attitudes, and chronological age, demonstrating the interactive effect of subjective age and ageist attitudes on depressive symptoms only among the old-old respondents. Time-lagged analyses further showed that ageist attitudes during previous days predicted feeling older and more depressed on following days, but not vice versa. Discussion: Results suggest that old-old individuals are more susceptible to a combination of negative views on aging on daily basis. Findings further support a daily assimilation process, whereby previous-day stereotypes are assimilated and manifested into one's identity and mental health, so that one feels older and more depressed on subsequent days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)836-844
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 23 Apr 2021


  • Ageist attitudes
  • Depression
  • Diary study
  • Older adults
  • Subjective age

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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