Have you noticed a trend towards increased happiness in yourself? Are you happier, more content with life than you were in your twenties or thirties? What do you think has made the difference?
According to a new Stanford study, a person’s sense of happiness and emotional balance seems to increase with age.“As people age, they’re more emotionally balanced and better able to solve highly emotional problems,” said lead author Laura Carstensen, psychology professor and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.
“We may be seeing a larger group of people who can get along with a greater number of people. They care more and are more compassionate about problems, and that may lead to a more stable world,” she said.
For more information you can read the Psychology and Aging article in full (for a fee) at APA PsycNET.
Emotional experience improves with age: Evidence based on over 10 years of experience sampling.
Carstensen, Laura L.; Turan, Bulent; Scheibe, Susanne; Ram, Nilam; Ersner-Hershfield, Hal; Samanez-Larkin, Gregory R.; Brooks, Kathryn P.; Nesselroade, John R.
Psychology and Aging, Oct 25, 2010, No Pagination Specified. doi: 10.1037/a0021285
Recent evidence suggests that emotional well-being improves from early adulthood to old age. This study used experience-sampling to examine the developmental course of emotional experience in a representative sample of adults spanning early to very late adulthood. Participants (N = 184, Wave 1; N = 191, Wave 2; N = 178, Wave 3) reported their emotional states at five randomly selected times each day for a one week period. Using a measurement burst design, the one-week sampling procedure was repeated five and then ten years later. Cross-sectional and growth curve analyses indicate that aging is associated with more positive overall emotional well-being, with greater emotional stability and with more complexity (as evidenced by greater co-occurrence of positive and negative emotions). These findings remained robust after accounting for other variables that may be related to emotional experience (personality, verbal fluency, physical health, and demographic variables). Finally, emotional experience predicted mortality; controlling for age, sex, and ethnicity, individuals who experienced relatively more positive than negative emotions in everyday life were more likely to have survived over a 13 year period. Findings are discussed in the theoretical context of socioemotional selectivity theory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)