Age at Which We Feel Happiest Revealed
At what age are people at their happiest? This seemingly simple question could now have an answer.
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More than 460,000 participants
In their study, the researchers examined trends in subjective well-being over the lifespan based on 443 samples from longitudinal studies with a total of 460,902 participants. “We focused on changes in three central components of subjective well-being,” explains Professor Susanne Bücker, who initially worked on the study in Bochum and has since moved to Cologne: “Life satisfaction, positive emotional states and negative emotional states.”
Positive trend over a wide period of life
“Overall, the study indicated a positive trend over a wide period of life, if we look at life satisfaction and negative emotional states,” as Susanne Bücker sums up the results. The researchers attribute the slight decline in life satisfaction between the ages of 9 and 16 to, for example, changes to the body and to the social life that take place during puberty. Satisfaction rises again from young adulthood onwards. Positive feelings tend to decrease from childhood to late adulthood. In very late adulthood, all components of subjective well-being tended to worsen rather than improve. “This could be related to the fact that in very old people, physical performance decreases, health often deteriorates, and social contacts diminish; not least because their peers pass away,” speculates the researcher.
The study highlights the need to consider and promote subjective well-being with its various components across the lifespan, as the authors of the study conclude. Their findings could provide significant guidance for the development of intervention programmes, especially those aimed at maintaining or improving subjective well-being late in life.
Reference: Buecker S, Luhmann M, Haehner P, et al. The development of subjective well-being across the life span: A meta-analytic review of longitudinal studies. Psychol Bull. 2023;149(7-8):418-446. doi: 10.1037/bul0000401
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