Primary and Secondary Control Over Age-Related Changes in Physical Appearance



Beliefs about appearance-related changes due to aging were used to test the effects of perceived control and secondary control (acceptance) in a sample of 412 young, early-middle-age, and late-middle-age college-educated adults. Mean difference in aging-related appearance control and hypotheses regarding the adaptiveness of primary and secondary control were examined. Primary control over aging-related appearance was lower in older adults and secondary control was higher. In addition, the results indicated support for the Primacy/Back-Up Model that primary perceived control is important at all levels of actual control. Those with stronger beliefs in their primary control were less distressed. Secondary control served a back-up function in that it was related to less distress only for those who had medium or lower beliefs in primary control. The implications of these findings, that primary control may be advantageous even in low-control circumstances, are discussed.