Appraisal of life events, future expectations, and self‐reported activity‐limiting symptoms

Larue Allen, David W. Britt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents two analyses relating the subjective experience of life events to self‐reported illness using data from a large panel study. First, the effects of improving and worsening life circumstances on illness are compared. Experiencing relatively improved life changes over the past year decreased the tendency to report illness; experiencing relatively worsening life changes did not increase reporting tendencies. Further analysis suggests that short‐term setbacks may be rationalized away as being temporary, but that longer‐term, worsening life circumstances cannot be so easily disposed of. With all variables considered, individuals who had undergone 2 years of worsening life changes and for whom the future looked equally bleak had a 49% chance of reporting illness symptoms; those for whom both the past and future were bright had only a 7% chance of reporting illness symptoms. These findings are discussed as being a function of appraisal, mastery, and control mechanisms that mediate the stress/illness relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-140
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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