Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joelle Ruthig


Older adults face many age-related challenges, making it critical to identify malleable coping strategies that contribute to more frequent positive emotions and serve to protect overall psychological well-being. Prior research has shown that cognitive reappraisal, or finding meaning in a difficult situation, is a cognitively-based coping strategy that contributes to more frequent positive emotions. The current studies examined the short- and longer-term reciprocal relationship between engagement in cognitive reappraisal and frequency of positive emotions using a cross-lagged panel design. Multiple indices of psychological well-being were also assessed (i.e., perceived control, life satisfaction, self-efficacy, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms). Study 1 focused on cognitive reappraisal and positive emotions as predictors of each other, aimed to determine which directional association was stronger, and examined their stability/change over three months. Cognitive reappraisal was also assessed as a predictor of psychological well-being. Participants were 146 community-dwelling older adults aged 60+ years who completed online surveys assessing sociodemographics (Time 1), cognitive reappraisal, positive emotions (Time 1 and 2), and psychological well-being (Time 2). Study 2 focused on the same objectives but over a two-year period. The study utilized an existing longitudinal dataset of 418 community-dwelling older adults aged 60+ years who completed in-person interviews or mail-in surveys of measures identical to the first study. Results showed that greater engagement in cognitive reappraisal at Time 1 predicted more frequent positive emotions at Time 2 over the short-term only, whereas more frequent Time 1 positive emotions predicted greater engagement in cognitive reappraisal for both the short- and longer-term. As expected, cognitive reappraisal also predicted better psychological well-being over time, although the benefits were more extensive over three months compared to two years. Findings provide insight into those older adults who may experience better or poorer psychological well-being outcomes over time.