Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1963–1984 | Cite as

Disentangling the Relations Between Wisdom and Different Types of Well-Being in Old Age: Findings from a Short-Term Longitudinal Study

  • Monika ArdeltEmail author
Research Paper


Wisdom has been shown to be positively related to well-being in past cross-sectional research, but it is not clear whether wisdom affects well-being, well-being affects wisdom, or whether the association is reciprocal. This 10-month two-wave longitudinal study attempted to determine the direction of the relations between old age wisdom and physical, psychological (eudaimonic), and subjective (hedonic) well-being, using a sample of 123 older (M = 72 years) residents from a community in Florida, USA. The analyses of cross-lagged autoregressive models showed that baseline wisdom, assessed by cognitive, reflective, and compassionate (affective) dimensions of the three-dimensional wisdom scale (3D-WS), was significantly related to greater subjective well-being, mastery, purpose in life, and physical well-being at Time 2, but only baseline physical well-being was positively related to composite three-dimensional wisdom at Time 2 after controlling for baseline wisdom and well-being scores and significant control variables. The findings corroborate the hypothesis that wisdom in old age can exert a beneficial impact on physical, psychological, and subjective well-being. Helping individuals grow wiser might pay dividends in later life.


Wisdom Subjective well-being Physical well-being Mastery Purpose in life Cross-lagged autoregressive models 



I like to thank Carla Edwards, Anna Campbell, Adeen Woolverton, Nicolette Fertakis, Lisa Hamilton, Dacia Caglin, Dana Federici, Amy Monk, Brad Tripp, Elizabeth Brown, and Yvonne Combs for their help at various stages of the research project and to the research participants for their time and commitment to the study. The original data collection was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Aging (R03 AG14855-01).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Florida (UFIRB Project #96.580 and #97.630) and informed consent from all participants was sought and obtained prior to the interviews.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Criminology & LawUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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