Psychological markers of longevity in Sardinian centenarians: the impact of developmental factors and social desirability

  • Maria Chiara FastameEmail author
  • Maria Pietronilla Penna
  • Paul Kenneth Hitchcott
Original Article


A body of research documented that the study of mental health of the oldest individuals may contribute to understand the psychological characteristics of longevity. This study had two related aims. First, to fully characterize the psychological health of Sardinian elders in the very late adult span. Second, to determine the psychological health of long-lived individuals (i.e., centenarians) from this population. Three gender-matched age groups (octogenarian, nonagenarian, centenarian) of cognitively healthy, community dwelling adults were recruited in Sardinia, an Italian island characterized by higher levels of longevity. Comparisons of total and sub-scale levels of psychological well-being and depressive symptomatology were made while controlling for social desirability. There were few differences in any index of psychological health between the groups; only a decrease in the coping strategies sub-scale of psychological well-being was observed between the centenarians and the octogenarians. Social desirability was differentially associated with specific dimensions of depressive symptoms and psychological well-being. These findings highlight that there is minimal age-related decline in the psychological health of a longevous population, even among its very oldest members. The present outcomes suggest that older Sardinians represent an advantageous population for the investigation of the psychological markers of longevity, since they demonstrate positive adaptation to the challenges (e.g., changes related to their social network) of very late adulthood.


Centenarian Longevity Psychological well-being Depression Social desirability 



This work was partially supported by the Sardinia Regional Government under grant “CRP-78543” entitled “Invecchiamento attivo in Sardegna: quali fattori influenzano il benessere psicologico negli anziani?” [Active aging in Sardinia: What factors influence psychological well-being in the elderly?]”

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

Ethical approval

The ethical committee of the Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy of the University of Cagliari approved this study.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was given by all participants prior to participation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, PhilosophyUniversity of CagliariCagliariItaly

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