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Subjective Well-Being

Personality And Emotion Regulation

A second class of explanations for the paradox of SWB focuses on personality dispositions and emotion regulation strategies. Extraversion and neuroticism are stable across the adult years, and happy people are low on neuroticism and high on extraversion. From the dispositional perspective, age is irrelevant; it is individual differences in personality that contribute to variation in SWB.

In contrast, Carstensen offers a developmental explanation for why older people maintain their SWB. She found that as people age, their goals related to the self shift from developing an identity to regulating emotions. Because of the focus on emotion regulation, older adults are posited to be more selective in choosing members of their social networks. They are less likely than younger adults to have negative social exchanges. Older adults appear to be better than younger adults at regulating their emotions (Carstensen). For example, older couples appear to be more adept than younger couples at preventing arguments from escalating. Having a positive spousal relationship can buffer the stressors that accompany aging.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4Subjective Well-Being - Self-protective Strategies, Personality And Emotion Regulation, Sense Of Control