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What is perceived control?
Defined as “the belief that one has the ability to make a difference in the course or the consequences of some event or experience; often helpful in dealing with stressors”, perceived control can be a key factor in living longer. Also known as locus of control, the confidence we have in our ability to control our own lives plays an important role in maintaing a healthy lifestyle and avoiding high-risk activities that can cause medical problems later in life.
Beginning in adolescence, perceived control shapes our abiity to develop good health habits that can prevent future problems. Research has shown that higher perceived control in adolescents is linked to lower psychological stress, better cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, and reduced obesity by the time those adolescents reach young adulthood. The healthy decisions that come from perceived control can lead to favourable outcomes much later in life as well.
Researchers have already demonstrated a link between perceived control and reduced cardiovascular disease and even delaying death in older adults. Studies of patients with diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and kidney disease have also shown increased rates of survival linked to how much confidence people have in their ability to control their disease.
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.
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