Wisdom as a resiliency factor for subjective well-being in later life

Abstract: Objectives. Research has shown that wisdom tends to be positively associated with subjective well-being (SWB) in later life, especially if older adults encounter physical or social hardship. Yet, the role of resiliency in the wisdom and well-being relationship has not been investigated. We extended our earlier study that investigated the buffering effect of wisdom on the inverse relationship between adverse life events and SWB (Ardelt & Jeste, 2018) to analyze whether resiliency mediates the association between three-dimensional wisdom and SWB by reducing stress. Method. A structural equation path model was employed, using data from the Successful AGing Evaluation (SAGE) study of 994 adults between the ages of 51 and 99 years (M = 77, SD = 12). Wisdom was assessed as an integration of cognitive, reflective, and compassionate (affective) dimensions, resiliency as resilience and a sense of mastery and control, and SWB as a latent variable with mental health, happiness, and life satisfaction as effect indicators. Results. Resilience, mastery, and perceived stress fully mediated the positive association between wisdom and SWB. Discussion. Wisdom seems to strengthen resilience, mastery, and equanimity during the later years of life, which helps older adults to maintain a sense of well-being despite aging-related losses. The study indicates that wisdom is a valuable psychological resource in old age.

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Ardelt, M., & Jeste, D. V. (2022) Wisdom as a resiliency factor for subjective well-being in later life. Praxis Klinische Verhaltensmedizin und Rehabilitation (Practice of Clinical Behavioral Medicine and Rehabilitation), 118, 13-28.