Differential trajectories of well-being in older adult women: The role of optimism

Erin A. Olson, Jason T. Fanning, Elizabeth A. Awick, Hyondo D. Chung, Edward McAuley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Well-being is important to healthy aging. The present study examined the trajectories and determinants of well-being in older women (n = 248) over a 39-month period. Methods: Participants completed measures of optimism, pessimism, functional limitations, physical activity, and self-efficacy. Well-being, operationalised as life satisfaction, was assessed at baseline, 12, 24, and 39 months. Latent growth and class analyses examined trajectories of well-being and antecedents of change. Results: The overall model testing a linear growth pattern fit the data well [X2(df = 5) = 7.77, p = .17, CFI = .98, RMSEA = .05], revealing an overall significant, but modest decline in wellbeing. Three latent classes were further revealed; one class (n = 34, 13.3%) began with moderate levels of well-being (Mi = 25.4, p < .001), which decreased across time (Ms = -3.12, p < .001). A second class (n = 54, 21.8%) began with lower well-being (Mi = 17.1, p < .001) that remained low (Ms = .702, p = .378). The third class (n = 161, 64.9%) started with high levels of well-being (Mi = 28.4, p < .001) which were maintained (Ms = -.027, p = .841). Higher optimism and lower pessimism differentiated between declining well-being and maintaining well-being across time. Conclusions: Optimism and pessimism appear to differentiate patterns of well-being in community-dwelling older women. Promoting optimism-inducing strategies may be useful for maintaining well-being in older adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-380
Number of pages19
JournalApplied Psychology: Health and Well-Being
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aging
  • Latent class analysis
  • Optimism
  • Well-being
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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