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Objectives: While personal growth has been found to be associated with multiple aspects of health in adulthood, its associations with cognitive functioning have not been fully understood. The present study aimed to assess both directions of such longitudinal associations.

Method: Using data from the second wave (Time 1 [T1]) and third wave (Time 2 [T2]) of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study (N = 4,206; mean age = 56.0 [standard deviation (SD) = 12.3]), a longitudinal measurement model containing latent variables of episodic memory and executive function was first constructed. Built on the measurement model, a cross-lagged panel model was analyzed to assess relationships between personal growth and the two areas of cognitive functioning, in which T1 personal growth predicted residualized changes in episodic memory and executive function, and T1 episodic memory and executive function predicted change in personal growth, controlling for covariates.

Results: T1 personal growth significantly predicted smaller decreases in episodic memory, whereas it did not predict change in executive function. T1 episodic memory, but not T1 executive function, significantly predicted smaller decreases in personal growth.

Discussion: The present findings were unique, particularly implying potential longitudinal reciprocity between personal growth and episodic memory. These findings and implications can inform future research aimed at exploring approaches to promoting personal growth and cognitive functioning among aging adults.


This is the author's peer-reviewed manuscript. The version of record is available from the publisher at

Copyright © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved.

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