TitleDoes Chronic Stress Moderate Age Differences in Emotional Well-Being? Testing Predictions of Strength and Vulnerability Integration.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsSliwinski, MJ, Freed, S, Scott, SB, Pasquini, G, Smyth, JM
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published2021 06 14
KeywordsAdaptation, Psychological, Adult, Aged, Aging, Cross-Sectional Studies, Emotions, Female, Humans, Individuality, Internal-External Control, Male, Mental Health, Middle Aged, Self Report, Stress, Psychological

OBJECTIVES: The Strength and Vulnerability Integration (SAVI) theory posits boundary conditions, such as chronic stress, which place constraints on positive emotional aging. We examine SAVI's prediction that higher levels of chronic stress will attenuate favorable age gradients for multiple indices of well-being.

METHODS: We used cross-sectional data from a diverse systematic probability sample of adults (n = 260, ages 25-65). Multiple regression analysis was used to examine age gradients and test age × chronic stress interactions on 5 measures of well-being relevant for SAVI's prediction: positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, emotional distress, and rumination.

RESULTS: Age was unrelated to well-being unless individual differences in health limitations were statistically controlled, in which case older age was associated with more favorable levels of well-being. Chronic stress significantly interacted with age for negative affect, emotional distress, rumination, and life satisfaction; examination of the interactions indicated that age was no longer associated with more favorable levels of well-being at higher levels of chronic stress.

DISCUSSION: Our findings support a key prediction of SAVI by demonstrating that high levels of chronic stress present a boundary condition for favorable age gradients on well-being. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding the "paradox" of well-being.

Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
PubMed ID33057679
PubMed Central IDPMC8200348
Grant ListP01 AG003949 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01 AG039409 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States