The new study, led by researchers from Oregon State and Boston University, found some support for all three models, depending on whether you looked at hassles or uplifts and the age of the men. How men appraised their uplifts was stable, the researchers say, supporting the hedonic treadmill theory. But how they appraised hassles depended on their age: Appraisals got better through their 60s, but then started to become more severe in their 70s.
Nonetheless, Aldwin noted, some men respond more intensely to life's ups and downs than others, but both the perception and intensity of these events is highly variable among individuals.
"What we found was that among 80 percent of the men in the study, the hassles they encounter from their early 50s on tended to decline until they reached about 65 to 70 years of age, and then they rose," Aldwin pointed out. "Conversely, about 20 percent of the men perceived experiencing more uplifting events until they turned 65-70 and they begin to decline."
The study drew from the perceptions of the men over events in their lives that were big and small, positive and negative. Self-regulation or how they respond to those events varied, Aldwin said.
"Some older people continue to find sources of happiness late in life despite dealing with family losses, declining health, or a lack of resources," she said. "You may lose a parent, but gain a grandchild. The kids may leave the house, but you bask in their accomplishments as adults. You find value in gardening, volunteering, caregiving or civic involvement."
Aging is neither exclusively rosy nor depressing, Aldwin said, and how you react to hassles and uplifts as a 55- to 60-year-old may change as you enter what researchers call "the fourth age," from 75 to 100, based on your perceptions and/or your life experiences.
"Who falls into these groups and why can begin to tell us what kind of person ultimately may be happy late in
|Contact: Carolyn Aldwin|
Oregon State University