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The longitudinal associations of primary and secondary control with two distinct aspects of happiness including hedonic/subjective and eudaimonic/psychological well-being had not been fully studied. The present study aimed to contribute to the literature by examining these associations and their age differences. Using data from the second and third waves of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS; N = 4963, aged 28 to 84 at baseline), the present study conducted structural equation modeling analyses to examine whether one primary control strategy (persistence in goal striving) and two secondary control strategies (positive reappraisals and lowering aspirations) predicted residualized changes in the latent constructs of subjective well-being (SWB) and psychological well-being (PWB) and whether there were age differences in these associations. The results indicate that persistence in goal striving and lowering aspirations overall predicted changes in PWB while none of the control strategies did for SWB, but some age differences were found. Whereas these differences somewhat varied for the outcomes of SWB and PWB, the findings indicate tendencies for older individuals compared to younger individuals of more negative (or less positive) associations of persistence in goal striving and more positive (or less negative) and more negative associations of positive reappraisals and lowering aspirations, respectively, with these outcomes. The present study suggested potential directions of future research aimed at further examining the role of primary and secondary control for happiness and exploring potential interventions to promote happiness, for example, by modifying primary and/or secondary control for adults of different ages.


This is the author’s peer-reviewed manuscript. The published version of record is accessible from the publisher at Copyright © 2022 The Author, under exclusive licence to Springer Nature. All rights reserved. Published online Feb., 2022. Issue date June, 2022. Supplemental materials are available at