Scientific article

Are self-efficacy beliefs and subjective task demand related to apathy in aging?

Published inAging & mental health, vol. 18, no. 4, p. 521-530
Publication date2014

Objective: Apathy, defined as a reduction in voluntary goal-directed behaviors (GDBs), is common in aging, but the processes underlying apathy are still unclear. Self-efficacy beliefs are likely to play a key role in GDBs, by influencing goal setting, perceived difficulty, and the necessary amount of effort to achieve goals. The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between apathy and perceived self-efficacy.Method: Sixty-three healthy elderly participants worked on a memory task without fixed performance standard ('do your best') and indicated perceived difficulty and effort investment after performing the task. They also completed two short scales assessing general self-efficacy and negative mood. In addition, a close relative of each participant completed the Initiative Interest Scale, a new questionnaire assessing apathetic manifestations in aging.Results: The main results showed that subjective task demand (i.e., perceived difficulty and estimated effort) operated as a mediator between self-efficacy beliefs and apathy. These results suggest that elderly people with low self-efficacy beliefs who face a challenge judge the task to be highly difficult and effort demanding, which might result in GDB reduction.Conclusion: These results shed new light on the processes related to apathy in aging and open up an interesting prospect for psychological interventions.

  • Goal-directed behavior reduction
  • General self-efficacy
  • Perceived difficulty
  • Effort investment
Citation (ISO format)
ESPOSITO, Fabienne, GENDOLLA, Guido H.E., VAN DER LINDEN, Martial. Are self-efficacy beliefs and subjective task demand related to apathy in aging? In: Aging & mental health, 2014, vol. 18, n° 4, p. 521–530. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2013.856865
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1360-7863

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