There is a common belief that people become happier as they age, but research has shown that this is not always the case. While some studies have found that older people tend to be happier than younger people, other research has found no significant difference in happiness levels across age groups.
One factor that may contribute to the belief that older people are happier is that older adults are generally more satisfied with their lives than younger adults. This may be because older adults have had more time to achieve their goals and accumulate life experiences that contribute to their sense of well-being. However, this does not necessarily mean that older adults experience more positive emotions on a day-to-day basis.
In fact, some studies have found that older adults experience more negative emotions than younger adults, particularly in response to stressful events such as the loss of a spouse or declining health. Additionally, older adults may be more likely to experience feelings of loneliness and social isolation, which can negatively impact their well-being.
Overall, while there is some evidence that older adults may be more satisfied with their lives, it is not necessarily the case that they are happier on a daily basis. Factors such as social relationships, physical health, and life circumstances can all play a role in determining an individual's level of happiness at any age.
A large study in South Korea exploring the relationship between age and well-being revealed that whether well-being improves in advanced age or not depends on the personality traits of agreeableness and neuroticism. Notably, well-being did not increase in advanced age in people with low agreeableness and high neuroticism. The study was published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being. Researchers studying how happiness and well-being change with age in the past decades reported an interesting relationship. Going towards midlife, happiness tends to decrease. As people move towards midlife, on average, they become less and less happy. However, once midlife passes, their happiness and well-being start to increase again.
A recent study conducted in South Korea aimed to examine the relationship between age and well-being and found that whether well-being improves in advanced age depends on an individual's personality traits, specifically agreeableness and neuroticism. The study, which was published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, showed that individuals with low agreeableness and high neuroticism did not experience an increase in well-being as they aged.
Over the past few decades, researchers have explored how happiness and well-being change with age and have discovered an interesting trend. As people approach midlife, their happiness tends to decrease. On average, individuals become less happy as they move towards midlife. However, after midlife, happiness and well-being start to increase once again.
The trend of a U-shaped relationship between happiness and age has been observed by researchers using both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. This U-shape trend refers to the decrease in happiness as people approach midlife, followed by an increase in happiness as they age further. However, more recent studies have challenged this view, highlighting inconsistencies in the findings of previous studies. One factor that may explain these discrepancies is personality, as personality traits are known to be associated with well-being. It is possible that an individual's personality traits influence how their happiness and well-being change with age.
Joo Hyun Kim, the lead author of the study, along with her colleagues, aimed to investigate whether the U-shaped relationship between age and well-being, observed in other countries, is present in South Korea, considering its specific cultural context. The researchers also aimed to explore whether personality traits could be associated with changes in happiness and well-being in advanced age.
To achieve their research goals, the researchers conducted an online survey of well-being and personality, using a platform launched by the Center for Happiness Studies at Seoul National University and Kakao Corporation (http://together.kakao.com/hello). The study included a total of 10,456 participants ranging in age from 14 to 75 years, with an average age of 30. The majority of the participants were women, accounting for 85% of the total sample.
The participants completed assessments of subjective well-being, which included three components: life satisfaction ("How satisfied are you with your life nowadays?"), positive affect (happy, pleasant, and relaxed), and negative affect (bored, annoyed, depressed, and anxious). Personality was assessed based on the Big Five personality model's five traits: neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. The researchers used a 50-item scale created from the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) to measure these personality traits. Participants also provided their year of birth, from which researchers calculated their age.
The study results indicated that the relationship between age and well-being followed a U-shaped curve, with positive affect and life satisfaction increasing after midlife and negative affect decreasing. However, the shape of the relationship between well-being and age was affected by personality traits, particularly agreeableness and neuroticism. Participants who scored high on agreeableness experienced a sharp increase in well-being past midlife, while those with low agreeableness did not show a clear relationship between age and well-being or even a reversed curve. The differences in well-being between people with different levels of agreeableness were more pronounced for both younger and older age groups.
When neuroticism was taken into account, the study found that the U-shaped relationship between age and well-being was most pronounced for participants low in neuroticism. For those high in neuroticism, the curve representing the relationship became flat, but did not reverse its shape. The other three personality traits - extroversion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience - did not have a significant association with the shape of the relationship between age and well-being.
The study "Older people are not always happier than younger people: The moderating role of personality" makes an important contribution to our understanding of how personality traits can impact the relationship between age and well-being. However, it is important to note that the study did not follow the same individuals over time, so the observed effects could also be due to generational differences. Moreover, the sample consisted mostly of women, so the results may not be generalizable to men. The study was conducted by Joo Hyun Kim, Eunsoo Choi, Namhee Kim, and Incheol Choi.