, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 1055–1063 | Cite as

Mindfulness and Meditation Practice as Moderators of the Relationship between Age and Subjective Wellbeing among Working Adults

  • Tammy D. Allen
  • Tyler G. Henderson
  • Victor S. Mancini
  • Kimberly A. French


Promoting the health and wellbeing of an aging and age-diverse workforce is a timely and growing concern to organizations and to society. To help address this issue, we investigated the relationship between age and subjective wellbeing by examining the moderating role of mindfulness in two independent studies. In study 1, trait mindfulness was examined as a moderator of the relationship between age and vitality and between age and work-family balance in a sample of 240 participants. In study 2, data from the second phase of the Midlife Development in the USA (MIDUS II) project was used to investigate mindful-practice (i.e., meditation) as a moderator of the relationships between age and multiple measures of subjective wellbeing (life satisfaction, psychological health, physical health) in a sample of 2477 adults. Results revealed that mindfulness moderates the relationship between age and multiple indicators of subjective wellbeing. In addition, study 2 results indicated that individuals who reported that they mediated often combined with those who reported they meditated a lot reported better physical health than those who reported that they never meditate. The findings suggest that cultivating mindfulness can be a proactive tool for fostering health and subjective wellbeing in an aging and age-diverse workforce.


Mindfulness Age Wellbeing Health Lifespan Meditation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


The authors did not receive funding to support this research.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

Study 1—all procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Study 2—this is based on archival data and thus no formal consent was required.

Informed Consent

Study 1—all participants were provided informed consent. Study 2—this is based on archival data and thus no formal consent was required.


  1. Alexander, C., Langer, E., Newman, R., Chandler, H., & Davies, J. (1989). Transcendental meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 950–964.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, T. D., & Kiburz, K. M. (2012). Trait mindfulness and work-family balance among working parents: the mediating effects of vitality and sleep quality. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, 372–379. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2011.09.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, T. D., Eby, L. T., Conley, K. M., Williamson, R. L., Mancini, V. S., & Mitchell, M. E. (2015). What do we really know about the effects of mindfulness-based training in the workplace? Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8, 652–661. doi: 10.1017/iop.2015.95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrews-Hanna, J. R., Snyder, A. Z., Vincent, J. L., Lustig, C., Head, D., Raichle, M. E., & Buckner, R. L. (2007). Disruption of large-scale brain systems in advanced aging. Neuron, 56, 924–935. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.10.038.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Bastian, B., Kuppens, P., De Roover, K., & Diener, E. (2014). Is valuing positive emotion associated with life satisfaction? Emotion, 14, 639–645. doi: 10.1037/a0036466.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R. F., & Heatherton, T. F. (1996). Self-regulation failure: an overview. Psychological Inquiry, 7, 1–15. doi: 10.1207/s15327965pli0701_1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2007). Mindfulness: theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 211–237. doi: 10.1080/10478400701598298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carstensen, L. L., Isaacowitz, D., & Charles, S. T. (1999). Taking time seriously: a theory of socioemotional selectivity. American Psychologist, 54, 165–181. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.54.3.165.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Carstensen, L. L., Fung, H. H., & Charles, S. T. (2003). Socioemotional selectivity theory and the regulation of emotion in the second half of life. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 103–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Creswell, J. D., Irwin, M. R., Burklund, L. J., Lieberman, M. D., Arevalo, J. M., Ma, J., et al. (2012). Mindfulness-based stress reduction training reduces loneliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults: a small randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26, 1095–1101.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. de Frias, C. (2013). Memory compensation in older adults: the role of health, emotion regulation, and trait mindfulness (pp. 678–685). Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences: The Journals of Gerontology Series B.Google Scholar
  13. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19, 109–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. E. (1999). Subjective well-being: three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Evans, M. G. (1985). A Monte Carlo study of the effects of correlated method variance in moderated multiple regression analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 36, 305–323. doi: 10.1016/0749-5978(85)90002-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gallegos, A., Hoerger, M., Talbot, N., Moynihan, J., & Duberstein, P. (2013). Emotional benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction in older adults: the moderating roles of age and depressive symptom severity. Aging & Mental Health, 17, 823–829. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2013.799118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Garland, E. L., Geschwind, N., Peeters, F., & Wichers, M. (2015). Mindfulness training promotes upward spirals of positive affect and cognition: multilevel and autoregressive latent trajectory modeling analyses. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00015.
  18. Geiger, P. J., Boggero, I. A., Brake, C. A., Caldera, C. A., Combs, H. L., Peters, J. R., & Baer, R. A. (2016). Mindfulness-based interventions for older adults: a review of the effects on physical and emotional well-being. Mindfulness, 7, 296–307. doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0444-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Glomb, T. M., Duffy, M. K., Bono, J. E., & Yang, T. (2011). Mindfulness at work. In J. Martocchio, H. Liao, & A. Joshi (Eds.), Research in personnel and human resource management (pp. 115–157). UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Good, D. J., Lyddy, C. J., Glomb, T. M., Bono, J. E., Brown, K. W., Duffy, M. K., et al. (2016). Contemplating mindfulness at work: an integrative review. Journal of Management, 42, 114–142. doi: 10.1177/0149206315617003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: a meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, 35–43. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00573-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Hsu, L. M., & Langer, E. L. (2013). Mindfulness and cultivating well-being in older adults. In I. Boniwell, S. A. David, & A. C. Ayers (Eds.), Oxford handbook of happiness (pp. 1026–1036). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Ihle, A., Borella, E., Rahnfeld, M., Muller, S. R., Enge, S., Hacker, W., Wegge, J., Oris, M., & Kliegel, M. (2015). The role of cognitive resources for subjective work ability and health in nursing. European Journal of Ageing, 12, 131–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jackson, A. S., Sui, X., Hebert, J. R., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2009). Role of lifestyle and aging on longitudinal change in cardiorespiratory fitness. Archives Internal Medicine, 169, 1781–1787. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Dell Publishing.Google Scholar
  26. Kanfer, R., Beier, M. E., & Ackerman, P. L. (2013). Goals and motivation related to work in later adulthood: an organizing framework. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 22, 253–264. doi: 10.1080/1359432X.2012.734298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kooji, D. (2015). Successful aging at work: the active role of employees. Work, Aging, and Retirement, 1, 309–319. doi: 10.1093/workar/wav018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Martin, E. C., Galloway-Williams, N., Cox, M. G., & Winett, R. A. (2015). Pilot testing of a mindfulness- and acceptance-based intervention for increasing cardiorespiratory fitness in sedentary adults: a feasibility study. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 4, 237–245.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Morone, N., Lynch, C., Greco, C., Tindle, H., & Weiner, D. (2008). “I felt like a new person.” the effects of mindfulness meditation on older adults with chronic pain: qualitative narrative analysis of diary entries. The Journal of Pain, 9, 841–848. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2008.04.003.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Ng, T. W., & Feldman, D. C. (2012). Evaluating six common stereotypes about older workers with meta-analytical data. Personnel Psychology, 65, 821–858. doi: 10.1111/peps.12003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ng, T. W. J., & Feldman, D. C. (2013). Employee age and health. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83, 336–345. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2013.06.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Oettingen, G., Hönig, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2000). Effective self-regulation of goal attainment. International Journal of Educational Research, 33, 705–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Olivera-Figueroa, L. A., Asthana, S., Odisho, N., Ortiz Velez, A. L., Cuebas, K., & Lopez Cordova, N. M. (2016). Emerging cross-cultural research: the role of time perspective on well-being, life satisfaction and mindfulness. In A. M. Columbus (Ed.), Advances in psychology research (Vol. 113). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  34. Park, D. C., Polk, T. A., Hebrank, A. C., & Jenkins, L. J. (2010). Age differences in default mode activity on easy and difficult spatial judgment tasks. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 3, 1–12. doi: 10.3389/neuro.09.075.2009.Google Scholar
  35. Persson, J., Lustig, C., Nelson, J. K., & Reuter-Lorenz, P. A. (2007). Age differences in deactivation: a link to cognitive control? Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 1021–1032. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2007.19.6.1021.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Prakash, R., De Leon, A., Klatt, M., Malarkey, W., & Patterson, B. (2013). Mindfulness disposition and default-mode network connectivity in older adults. Social and Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, 8, 112–117. doi: 10.1093/scan/nss115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Prakash, R., De Leon, A., Patterson, B., Schirda, B., & Janssen, A. (2014). Mindfulness and the aging brain: a proposed paradigm shift. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 6. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00120.
  38. Preacher, K. J., Curran, P. J., & Bauer, D. J. (2006). Computational tools for probing interaction effects in multiple linear regression, multilevel modeling, and latent curve analysis. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 31, 437–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Prenda, K. M., & Lachman, M. E. (2001). Planning for the future: a life management strategy for increasing control and life satisfaction in adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 16, 206–216. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.16.2.206.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Reb, J., Narayanan, J., & Chaturvedi, S. (2014). Leading mindfully: two studies of the influence of supervisor trait mindfulness on employee well-being and performance. Mindfulness, 5, 36–45. doi: 10.1007/s12671-012-0144-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ryan, R. M., & Frederick, C. M. (1997). On energy, personality and health: subjective vitality as a dynamic reflection of well-being. Journal of Personality, 65, 529–565.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Ryff, C., Almeida, D., Ayanian, J., Carr, D., Cleary, P., & Coe, C. (2006). Midlife development in the United States (MIDUS II) 2004–2006. University of Wisconsin, Survey Center: Madison, WI.Google Scholar
  43. Scheibe, S., & Carstensen, L. (2010). Emotional aging: recent findings and future trends. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 65, 135–144. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbp132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schoormans, D., & Nyklíček, I. (2011). Mindfulness and psychologic well-being: are they related to type of meditation technique practiced? The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17, 629–634. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0332.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Splevins, K., Smith, A., & Simpson, J. (2009). Do improvements in emotional distress correlate with becoming more mindful? A study of older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 13, 328–335. doi: 10.1080/13607860802459807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stephan, Y., Demulier, V., & Terracciano, A. (2012). Personality, self-rated health, and subjective age in a life-span sample: the moderating role of chronological age. Psychology and Aging, 27, 875–880. doi: 10.1037/a0028301.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Stroebe, W., & Strack, F. (2014). The alleged crisis and the illusion of exact replication. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9, 59–71.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Truxillo, D. M., Cadiz, D. M., & Hammer, L. B. (2015). Supporting the aging workforce: a review and recommendations for workplace intervention research. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 2, 351–381. doi: 10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-032414-111435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zacher, H. (2015). Successful aging at work. Work, Aging and Retirement, 1, 4–25. doi: 10.1093/workar/wav018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tammy D. Allen
    • 1
  • Tyler G. Henderson
    • 1
  • Victor S. Mancini
    • 1
  • Kimberly A. French
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

Personalised recommendations