Mattering in the Later Years: Older Adults' Experiences of Mattering to Others, Purpose in Life, Depression, and Wellness

By Dixon, Andrea L. | Adultspan Journal, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Mattering in the Later Years: Older Adults' Experiences of Mattering to Others, Purpose in Life, Depression, and Wellness


Dixon, Andrea L., Adultspan Journal


The relationships among mattering, purpose in life, depression, and wellness among older adults were explored. Mattering, purpose in life, and depression accounted for 78% of the wellness variance. Older adults perceived that they mattered most to their children and friends. The importance of mattering when counseling older adults is discussed.

**********

Can any of us possibly imagine moving through life without ever being noticed by or feeling special to anyone else? William James (1890) believed that one of the worst retributions in this world would be to move through life being unnoticed by others. T. S. Eliot (1948) also purported that being important to others, and making a difference in others' lives, was actually one of the greatest purposes in life. Perceiving that we are noticed by and are important to others is known as the phenomenological experience of mattering to others (Rosenberg, 1985; Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981). Mattering to others is recognized as the fundamental need that all individuals have to feel significant and important to other people in their lives (Dixon Rayle, 2006b; Elliott, Kao, & Grant, 2004; Rosenberg, 1985). Furthermore, mattering is considered to be a global construct of significance to others through which individuals perceive their relevance in relation to specific others such as people in general, family members, friends, or to society at large (Dixon Rayle, 2005a; Mak & Marshal, 2004; Marshall, 2001; Rosenberg, 1985; Schieman & Taylor, 2001).

Traditionally, mattering to other people has been measured either as a general sense of mattering to organizations and large entities (Fromm, 1941) or as an interpersonal sense of mattering to specific others (Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981). Fromm and Rosenberg and McCullough were the first researchers to differentiate these two specific forms of mattering through which persons can evaluate their significance. Societal, or general, mattering involves individuals' perceptions that they matter to others; however, this form of mattering focuses on the importance of individuals' perceptions of making a difference in larger organizations, such as their country, work companies, or home communities (Fromm, 1941). Interpersonal mattering involves mattering to specific individuals and is determined by individuals' perceptions of how much they matter to significant others in their lives (Marcus, 1991; Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981). Further conceptualized, interpersonal mattering encompasses five components: individuals' perceptions that significant others (a) view them as important and significant, (b) show interest in them, (c) pay attention to them, (d) depend on them, and (e) are concerned with their future (Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981).

Although first conceptualized in the 1980s as a component of individuals' self-concepts (Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981), mattering was understudied during the 1990s (i.e., mattering was introduced in the 1980s but was not studied until the late 1990s). Current research regarding perceptions of interpersonal mattering to others has shown that mattering is related to higher self-esteem and social support, lower depression and academic stress, and greater psychosocial well-being and wellness (Dixon Rayle, 2005a; Dixon Rayle & Chung, 2007; Dixon Rayle & Myers, 2004; Marshall, 2001; Taylor & Turner, 2001). Only since 2001 has mattering to others reemerged as an important psychosocial construct; it has been studied with younger adolescents and older adolescents, college students, adults, medical residents, military cadets, and school counselors (Dixon Rayle, 2005a, 2006a; Dixon Rayle & Chung, 2007; Dixon Rayle, Scheidegger, & McWhirter, in press; Elliott et al., 2004; Mak & Marshal, 2004; Marshall, 2001; Myers & Bechtal, 2004; Powers, Myers, Tingle, & Powers, 2004; Schieman & Taylor, 2001; Taylor & Turner, 2001). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mattering in the Later Years: Older Adults' Experiences of Mattering to Others, Purpose in Life, Depression, and Wellness
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.