The Role of the Hostile-World Scenario in Predicting Physical and Mental Health Outcomes in Older Adults

J Aging Health. 2016 Aug;28(5):863-89. doi: 10.1177/0898264315614005. Epub 2015 Dec 14.


Objective: The hostile-world scenario (HWS) denotes a personal belief system regarding threats to one's physical and mental integrity. We examined whether the HWS predicted health among older adults.

Method: The Israeli branch of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE-Israel) provided data on 1,286 participants, aged 50+, interviewed in two waves 4 years apart. A special measure assembled items pertinent to the HWS throughout the SHARE survey. Nine outcomes indicated physical health (e.g., activities of daily living, medical conditions) and mental health (e.g., depressive symptoms, satisfaction with life).

Results: The HWS at Wave 1 predicted all physical and mental outcomes at Wave 2, except cognitive functioning, beyond effects of sociodemographics and the respective outcome's baseline at Wave 1. This predictive effect was stronger among older participants.

Discussion: The results support the conception of the HWS as a psychological monitor that senses approaching functional declines in later life.

Keywords: hostile-world scenario; longitudinal prediction; mental health; older adults; physical health.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Social Perception*