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Wisdom and Hard Times: The Ameliorating Effect of Wisdom on the Negative Association Between Adverse Life Events and Well-Being

  • Author(s): Ardelt, M
  • Jeste, DV
  • et al.
Abstract

Objectives:Old age is characterized by many physical and social losses that adversely affect subjective well-being (SWB). Yet, past studies have shown that wisdom tends to be positively related to SWB in old age, particularly under adverse circumstances. We tested whether three-dimensional wisdom, measured as a combination of cognitive, reflective, and compassionate (affective) personality qualities, moderated the inverse association between adverse life events and well-being. Method:A sample of 994 adults aged 51-99 years (M = 77) from the Successful AGing Evaluation (SAGE) study and structural equation models with well-being as a latent variable were used to test the hypothesis. Results:Greater wisdom, in particular the reflective wisdom dimension, was positively associated with SWB and buffered the inverse relation between the experience of adverse life events during the previous year and current well-being. Discussion:Wisdom appears to strengthen older adults' ability to cope with aging-related losses and, therefore, is a valuable psychological resource in old age.

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