Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies



First Advisor

Peter Martin


Unmarried older adults, or those identifying as widowed, divorced, or never married, may experience developmental challenges related to singlehood as they grow older. A developmental outcome of increasing importance is Tornstam’s gerotranscendence, which is related to psychological well-being. However, there have been challenges in investigating gerotranscendence due to psychometric inconsistencies across cultures using the gerotranscendence scale, which has made it difficult to understand how gerotranscendence relates to individual and social resources, particularly within unmarried older adults. Thus, the purpose of the present study is first, to establish a valid and reliable gerotranscendence factor structure, and second, to investigate the role of individual and social resources on gerotranscendence in unmarried older adults. Data from 227 participants in the Iowa Unmarried Survivors Study were utilized, consisting of widowed (n = 93), divorced (n = 69), and never married (n = 65) older adults. The sample was 71% female, 92% Caucasian, and nearly 88% had at least a high school degree. First, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were completed to establish a valid and reliable 7-item factor structure. Second, structural equation models were used to understand the role of marital status, personality, and social provisions in gerotranscendence. Findings demonstrated that neuroticism was connected to lower gerotranscendence, openness and conscientiousness were associated with greater gerotranscendence, and social provisions mediated the relationship between neuroticism and gerotranscendence, as well as extraversion and gerotranscendence. Agreeableness was not associated with gerotranscendence and there were no marital, gender, or age mean group differences gerotranscendence. Taken together, the modified gerotranscendence scale is a valid and reliable assessment for unmarried older adults. Personality and social provisions were related to gerotranscendence during later-life, suggesting that interindividual differences can be protective or detrimental to psychological well-being for unmarried older adults. These findings demonstrate that gerotranscendence during later-life is multifaceted and could be applied to programs aimed at improving psychological well-being by strengthening social resources and targeting protective personality traits. In order to improve gerotranscendence in unmarried older adults, it is critical to understand and support protective factors, such as extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, and social support, as well as to combat risk factors, such as neuroticism.

Copyright Owner

Angelica Marie Jasper



File Format


File Size

72 pages