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Older adults and perceived competence : a qualitative study on the experiences of competence throughout the lifespan and in times of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Giesler, Laura (2020) Older adults and perceived competence : a qualitative study on the experiences of competence throughout the lifespan and in times of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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Abstract:The experiences of competence, which contribute to well-being, change throughout the lifespan, as explained by the Self-Determination Theory (SDT). This can be explained by changing environments, obligations and surroundings. In the SDT, competence refers to feeling a certain amount of mastery and effectiveness while interacting with the environment. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the experiences and activities that older adults relate to competence and how they look back and describe how these changed throughout their life course. An additional focus was set on the COVID-19 pandemic, as the pandemic put new strains on people’s satisfaction of competence. Four semi-structured interviews were conducted with interviewees between the age of 75 and 85, consisting of one man and three women. All interviewees were living in their own apartment. The questions of the interview focused on the experiences and activities that the interviewees related to competence at four different stages in their lives: during adolescence/early adulthood, in the time preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the future. For the analysis, a partially deductive combined with an inductive approach was used. Statements of the interviewees were structured around ten codes, which were categorized into activities, experiences and limitations. The results show that a sense of mastery or effectiveness was mostly experienced while engaging in activities that required certain abilities of the interviewees and was further enhanced by rewards, support of, and recognition from others. Supporting others and participating actively in life was identified throughout all timeframes. Additional experiences and activities that older adults related to mastery or effectiveness during adolescence and early adulthood were financial matters and their jobs. During the time preceding the pandemic, no new experiences and activities were identified, but they felt restricted to actively participate in life because of the regulations passed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and thus, decreased their perceived competence. For the future, the interviewees hope to satisfy their need of competence by experiencing independency and possessing the abilities and skills to live on their own. Based on these findings, interventions could be developed to support older adults to engage in activities, which are aimed at increasing their perceived competence. Furthermore, future studies should extend this research with quantitative correlational analyses to further investigate to what extent the identified experiences and activities relate to the perceived feeling of competence of older adults on a broader sample.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/82992
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