BACKGROUND: Personality is a predictor of subjective well-being in older and younger adults, but less is known about the underlying mechanisms. One possible mechanism is psychological flexibility, which is the ability to keep an open mind-set in order to make flexible choices adapted to the situation at hand.
METHODS: We recruited 60 younger and 60 older adults and measured personality and well-being by questionnaires. To assess psychological flexibility we used questionnaires and a behavioral task assessing flexibility in information acquisition when making choices.
RESULTS: Based on indirect effect analysis of the questionnaire data, in line with former research, our data show that in both age groups, the relationship between personality and well-being runs through psychological flexibility.
CONCLUSION: This implies that training psychological flexibility may be a promising approach to increase well-being in both older and younger adults. This effect could not be demonstrated with our choice flexibility task, thus more research is needed to uncover why this could not be measured at the behavioral level.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was part of the doctoral project of Dr. Priska Steenhaut, funded by The Research Foundation–Flanders (FWO; 11ZV517N); and the Psychopathology and Information Processing in Older Adults (PIPO) alliance grant [IV1: I/00125/01]. The funding source played no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, writing of the report nor in the decision to submit the article for publication. We would like to thank all participants. We also thank Wannes De Kunst, Maroussia Meeus, and Lou Van Eynde (VUB master students in psychology) for their help in recruiting participants. Furthermore, we thank Bart Aben for his help in programming the choice task. Moreover, we want to thank Marie-Anne Vanderhasselt, Jens Allaert, and Tom Loeys for their advice with data analysis. Finally, we thank Maarten De Schryver for conducting the Bayesian analyses on the mediation and moderated mediation models.
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