Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1485–1506 | Cite as

Hope for the Future and Avoidance of the Present: Associations with Well-being in Older Adults

  • Susan J. FergusonEmail author
  • Alan J. Taylor
  • Catherine McMahon
Research Paper


Positive psychology and third wave cognitive behavioral therapy approaches have seldom been applied to older adults. This study therefore examined whether two concepts drawn from these areas, hope for the future and avoidance in the present, were associated with well-being in a sample of 259 older adults (65–94 years). Hope was measured as a stable trait. Experiential avoidance was measured as avoidance of present internal and external events. Respondents also completed two well-being measures: hedonic (positive and negative affect) and eudeimonic (meaning in life). Path analyses showed that high hope was significantly associated with high positive affect, and high meaning in life; and high experiential avoidance was associated with high negative affect and low meaning in life. This was also true when both (hope and avoidance) were taken into account, along with sociodemographic variables and perceived health. Many of the pathways between hope and well-being, and between experiential avoidance and well-being appear to be bidirectional. However the path from hope to positive affect was stronger than that from positive affect to hope. Further research is needed to clarify each of these points. Both hope for the future and lack of avoidance in the present are important for well-being in older adulthood and interventions targeting these processes may enhance positive aging and contribute to a sense of having a meaningful life.


Hope Experiential avoidance Older adults Meaning in life Positive affect Negative affect 



We would like to thank Wendy J. Phillips for her assistance with data cleaning and analysis strategy; and Naomi Miller-Powell, Lareena Brown, Amanda Davis, and Monica Liston for their involvement in data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan J. Ferguson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alan J. Taylor
    • 1
  • Catherine McMahon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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