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, 46 (6), 1433-1443

Goals and Everyday Problem Solving: Manipulating Goal Preferences in Young and Older Adults

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Goals and Everyday Problem Solving: Manipulating Goal Preferences in Young and Older Adults

Christiane A Hoppmann et al. Dev Psychol.

Abstract

In the present study, we examined the link between goal and problem-solving strategy preferences in 130 young and older adults using hypothetical family problem vignettes. At baseline, young adults preferred autonomy goals, whereas older adults preferred generative goals. Imagining an expanded future time perspective led older adults to show preferences for autonomy goals similar to those observed in young adults but did not eliminate age differences in generative goals. Autonomy goals were associated with more self-focused instrumental problem solving, whereas generative goals were related to more other-focused instrumental problem solving in the no-instruction and instruction conditions. Older adults were better at matching their strategies to their goals than young adults were. This suggests that older adults may become better at selecting their strategies in accordance with their goals. Our findings speak to a contextual approach to everyday problem solving by showing that goals are associated with the selection of problem-solving strategies.

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