Introduction: The development and regulation of depressive symptoms and the ability to regulate their development is a complex process. Both working memory and sleep disturbance relates to depressive symptom endorsement, though the mechanisms relating these variables have not been examined longitudinally. The current manuscript contains a series of three interrelated studies that aim to elucidate the relationship between potential emotion regulation resources longitudinally within the context of the Selection, Optimization, and Compensation of Emotion Regulation (SOC-ER) model. Study one examined the temporal relationship between working memory and depression, study two examined working memory and depression following loss of spouse, and finally, study three examined the relationship between sleep quality, working memory, and depressive symptoms. Method: Participants were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, which is a longitudinal dataset sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and collected through the University of Michigan. Data have been collected every two years since 1992 and consists of randomly selected participants ages 65 years and older (Hauser & Willis, 2004). Working memory was measured by Serial 7's, and the 8-question CES-D was used to measure depressive symptoms. Results: Study one utilized a latent growth model to evaluate the relationship between working memory and depressive symptoms over time. A significant bidirectional rather than a temporal relationship between the two was observed. Furthermore, both depressive symptoms and working memory ability was found to become worse over time. Study two utilized a latent growth model of the trajectory of depressive symptom development following the loss of a spouse. Results indicated that the starting point of initial depressive symptom endorsement was significantly related to working memory ability. Working memory also moderated the relationship between depressive symptom endorsement and time, where individuals with better working memory tended to report lower depressive symptoms and demonstrated a lesser increase in depressive symptoms. Study three utilized a multilevel model that demonstrated depression increases over time and with age. Regardless of time, better sleep quality and better working memory both result in lower depressive symptom endorsement, and there were associations between lower depressive symptom endorsement and both better sleep quality and better working memory. Conclusions: Findings strongly support working memory, sleep quality, and spousal support as emotion regulation resources within the context of the SOC-ER model. Future research should continue to examine these and similar interrelated factors such as inhibitory control, processing speed, and vascular burden longitudinally to provide further understanding of changes in emotion regulation processing among older adults.


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Graduation Date





Paulson, Daniel


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Psychology; Clinical Psychology









Release Date

August 2021

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)