Clarity of Emotions and Goals: Exploring Associations with Subjective Well-Being Across Adulthood

Nathaniel S. Eckland, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite declines in cognition associated with age, emotional health tends to increase. However, extant studies find few differences in the type or number of emotion regulation strategies used by older compared to younger adults. This study tested the hypothesis that older adults have greater clarity of their emotions and goals compared to younger adults. Participants (total N = 709, ages 18–81) recruited in age-stratified samples completed measures of emotional clarity, goal clarity, depression, and life satisfaction. Results suggested that emotional clarity and goal clarity are positively correlated factors, with emotional clarity showing the lowest levels in emerging adults and highest levels in older adults. Goal clarity was lowest among emerging adults, but only small differences were found between middle and older adults. Across adulthood both emotional clarity and goal clarity were linked to lower depressive symptoms and greater life satisfaction. Limitations include data being cross-sectional and self-report based and the youngest sample being recruited differently from the older samples, but the results raise the possibility of developmental changes in emotional clarity across adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-412
Number of pages12
JournalAffective Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Adult development
  • Depression
  • Emotional clarity
  • Goals
  • Life satisfaction
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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