BASE-Publications: Abstracts

Unasked-for support and unsolicited advice: Age and the quality of social experience

Jacqui Smith & Jacqueline J. Goodnow (1999)

Psychology and Aging, 14, 108-121

The present study (N = 122) examined whether older adults (M = 79 years) differed from younger age groups (Ms = 25 and 45 years) in their experience of 35 situations of unsolicited support selected from 7 content areas (e.g., health, cognition, finances, life management). Examined were reported occurrence, affective quality, interpretation, and strategies used when support was unwelcome. At all ages, unasked for support was regarded as more unpleasant than pleasant, primarily because it implied incompetence. Unexpectedly, compared with the younger adults, older adults reported less occurrence overall (with some variations by content area) but the same level of unpleasant affect. Cognitive and social-relational factors that are age related (e.g., the use of active discounting strategies) played a role in reported occurrence and affective appraisal and may determine whether unsolicited support has positive or negative outcomes.