The dynamics of possible selves in old age

Future-oriented motives are thought to be cast off in old age. Transcripts of the hopes and fears of participants in the 4-yr longitudinal sample of the Berlin Aging Study (206 Ss, aged 70-103 yrs) were coded for central domains and motives (e.g., gain, maintenance, avoiding loss) and evaluated for the amount and direction of change. Domains of personal characteristics, health, and social relationships predominated together with gain motives. Over time, 72% of participants added new domains of hopes and 53% added new fears. Individual differences in stability and change in matched hopes and fears about health and personal identity were associated with changes in physical and functional health. People who added matched possible selves about health, focused on maintenance, and added few new domains of hopes declined in life satisfaction. Overall, these findings indicate that possible selves are a dynamic system during old age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)