Age patterns in subjective well-being are partially accounted for by psychological and social factors associated with aging

Arthur A. Stone, Joan E. Broderick, Diana Wang, Stefan Schneider, Geilson Lima Santana
2020 PLoS ONE  
Subjective well-being has captured the interest of scientists and policy-makers as a way of knowing how individuals and groups evaluate and experience their lives: that is, their sense of meaning, their satisfaction with life, and their everyday moods. One of the more striking findings in this literature is a strong association between age and subjective well-being: in Western countries it has a U-shaped association over the lifespan. Despite many efforts, the reason for the curve is largely
more » ... curve is largely unexplained, for example, by traditional demographic variables. In this study we examined twelve social and psychological variables that could account for the U-shaped curve. In an Internet sample of 3,294 adults ranging in age from 40 to 69 we observed the expected steep increase in a measure of subjective well-being, the Cantril Ladder. Regression analyses demonstrated that the social-psychological variables explained about two-thirds of the curve and accounting for them significantly flattened the U-shape. Perceived stress, distress-depression, an open perspective about the future, wisdom, satisfaction with social relationships, and family strain were measures that had pronounced impacts on reducing the curve. These findings advance our understanding of why subjective well-being is associated with age and point the way to future studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0242664 pmid:33264331 fatcat:moigvpl43jcpzc7mtuo42rj2ya