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.