Longitudinal Associations Between Perceived Control and Health for American and Japanese Aging Adults

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Background and Objectives

Research suggests longitudinal and reciprocal relationships between perceived control over life circumstances and health for Western populations; yet, such associations have not been fully understood for non-Western populations. The present study addresses cultural differences in these associations for American and Japanese aging adults.

Research Design and Methods

For respondents aged 40 and older at 2 waves (Time 1 [T1] and Time 2 [T2]) of Midlife in the United States (N = 4,455) and Midlife in Japan (N = 827), cross-lagged path models were analyzed for T1 perceived control predicting change in each health measure (i.e., self-rated health, number of chronic health conditions, and functional limitations) from T1 to T2; and the matched T1 health measure predicting change in perceived control from T1 and T2. In these analyses, the effects of T1 age, T1 perceived control, and each T1 health measure were compared cross-nationally.


A cross-national difference emerged in that T1 perceived control predicted change in chronic health conditions only for Americans. Similar tendencies were found between the 2 nationalities for T1 perceived control predicting changes in self-rated health and functional limitations. Reciprocal relationships between perceived control and health measures were found for Americans, but neither age nor any of the T1 health measures predicted change in perceived control for the Japanese respondents.

Discussion and Implications

The findings suggest cultural differences and similarities between the 2 nationalities, which have implications for potential health benefits of enhancing perceived control among American and Japanese aging adults. Building on these findings, the present study also indicates future directions of research.


Copyright © The Authors 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved.