Exploring the Role of Positive Psychology Constructs as Protective Factors Against the Impact of Negative Environmental Variables on the Subjective Well-being of Older Adults
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The present study explored how older adults adapt to the negative changes that often occur as people age. This study sought to provide a comprehensive investigation of how the positive psychology variables of hope, optimism, resilience, and self-efficacy might work together to serve as protective factors against the potentially deleterious impact of negative environmental variables on the subjective well-being of older adults. The negative environmental variables examined in this study included declining health status, lower social support, and negative life events (e.g., loss of spouse, reduced income, etc.). In this study, the subjective well-being in older adults is defined as an overall sense of satisfaction with life, high positive affect, and low negative affect. This study examined three primary hypothesized models, each investigating how positive internal dispositional factors (as measured by taking the composite of hope, optimism, resilience, and self-efficacy), work together to mediate the relationship between the components of subjective well-being and a different environmental variable for each model. Several alternative path analyses models were also run based on modifications to the model that achieved good fit, with the goal of evaluating whether the individual positive psychology constructs either fully or partially mediated between certain environmental variables and each of the components of subjective well-being. Although no adequate fits were attained for the models evaluating social support and negative life events, results of this study showed an adequate fit for the model evaluating the positive psychology cluster as a mediator between health status and the subjective well-being components; more specifically, the positive psychology cluster was shown to mediate the relationship between perceived health and two of the three components of subjective well-being (life satisfaction and positive affect). In addition, correlation analyses revealed that the positive psychology variables were all significantly correlated with each other, as well as with the participant reports of life satisfaction, positive affect, and perceived health. These findings suggest that participants who reported higher levels of the positive psychology constructs experienced higher satisfaction with life and positive affect, and perceived themselves as having a lower occurrence of health problems. Overall, these results provide additional evidence for the protective role that hope, optimism, resilience, and self-efficacy may play in maintaining the well-being of older adults.
Pezent, Ginger Diane (2011). Exploring the Role of Positive Psychology Constructs as Protective Factors Against the Impact of Negative Environmental Variables on the Subjective Well-being of Older Adults. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from