Objective: Higher optimism has been linked with health, well-being, and cognitive functioning. Spouses also play an important role on people's health, especially in older adulthood. Yet, whether a spouse's optimism is associated with an individual's cognitive functioning is understudied. Thus, we examined this question. Method: Participants were 4,457 heterosexual couples (N = 8,914; Mage = 66.73, SD = 9.67) from the Health and Retirement Study—a large, diverse, prospective, and nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged >50. Optimism was assessed at baseline (t1) and cognition was measured every two years with up to five repeated assessments of cognition data over the 8-year follow-up period (t1; t2; t3; t4; t5). Results: Results from multi-level dyadic data analyses showed small but positive associations between actor optimism and actor cognitive functioning (memory: r =.16, mental status =.10), as well as partner optimism and actor cognitive functioning (memory: r =.04, mental status =.03). These associations mostly persisted over time. Conclusions: Participants' own optimism and their partner's optimism were both positively associated with cognitive functioning.Thus, with further research, optimism (at both the individual and couple level) might emerge as an innovative intervention target that helps adults maintain cognitive functioning as they age.
- actor–partner interdependence model
- cognitive functioning
- Health and Retirement Study
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology