Does Our Age Affect the Way we Live? A Study on Savoring Strategies Across the Life Span

  • Alexandra Marques-PintoEmail author
  • Sofia Oliveira
  • Andrea Santos
  • Cláudia Camacho
  • Débora Pires Silva
  • Mónica Sofia Pereira
Research Paper


This study set out to explore the savoring strategies used by adolescents, adults and the elderly with a view to contributing to theory on age and savoring. A sample of 1018 Portuguese participants (n = 114 adolescents in the 3rd cycle of basic education; n = 474 adolescents in secondary education; n = 311 adults; and n = 119 older adults), answered the Positive Experiences Questionnaire, a self-report questionnaire with open-ended questions on savoring strategies used to prolong or intensify the positive emotions associated with positive events, in addition to their respective efficacy. The data content analysis showed that participants use complex strategy patterns to up-regulate their positive emotional experiences, comprising cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, volitional and sensory strategies. Age differences in savoring were identified, with the adolescents mostly referring to interpersonal strategies, namely taking care of relationships, and the adult and elderly participants predominantly recalling cognitive strategies, more specifically sharing with others and having thoughts of faith or thankfulness, respectively. The majority of participants considered the savoring strategies used to be efficacious and no significant associations were found between the lifespan groups in this regard. These findings may further the understanding of documented differences in subjective well-being across the life-span and inform intervention efforts in this domain. The article closes by suggesting directions for future studies.


Positive events Savoring strategies Life span Portugal 



  1. Bardin, L. (1977). Análise de conteúdo. Lisboa: Edições 70. ISBN 978-972-44-1506-2.Google Scholar
  2. Berntsen, D., Rubin, D. C., & Siegler, I. C. (2011). Two versions of life: Emotionally negative and positive life events have different roles in the organization of life story and identity. Emotion, 11(5), 1190–1201. Scholar
  3. Bryant, F. B. (1989). A four-factor model of perceived control: Avoiding, coping, obtaining, and savoring. Journal of Personality, 57, 773–797. Scholar
  4. Bryant, F. B. (2003). Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI): A scale for measuring beliefs about savoring. Journal of Mental Health, 12, 175–196. Scholar
  5. Bryant, F. B., Chadwick, E. D., & Kluwe, K. (2011). Understanding the processes that regulate positive emotional experience: Unsolved problems and future directions for theory and research on savoring. International Journal of Wellbeing, 1, 107–126. Scholar
  6. Bryant, F. B., Smart, C. M., & King, S. P. (2005). Using the past to enhance the present: Boosting happiness through positive reminiscence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 227–260. Scholar
  7. Bryant, F. B., & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A new model of positive experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. ISBN 978-080-58-5120-5.Google Scholar
  8. Carvalho, J. S., & Marques Pinto, A. (2011). Savoring: Uma forma de promover o bem-estar pessoal em adolescentes, alunos do ensino secundário [Savoring: A new approach to high school adolescents personal well-being promotion]. In A. Marques Pinto & L. Picado (Eds.), Adaptação e bem-estar nas escolas portuguesas: Dos alunos aos professores [Adaptation and well-being in portuguese school: From students to teachers] (pp. 123–155). Lisboa: Coisas de Ler.Google Scholar
  9. Chadwick, E. D. (2012). The structure of adolescent and adult savoring and its relationship to feeling good and functioning well. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Retrieved from
  10. Charles, S. T., Luong, G., Almeida, D. M., Ryff, C., Strum, M., & Love, G. (2010). Fewer ups and downs: Daily stressors mediate age differences in negative affect. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 65B(3), 279–286. Scholar
  11. Costa-Ramalho, S., Marques-Pinto, A., Ribeiro, M. T., & Pereira, C. R. (2015). Savoring positive events in couple life: Impacts on relationship quality and dyadic adjustment. Family Science, 6(1), 170–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Feldman, G. C., Joormann, J., & Johnson, S. L. (2008). Responses to positive affect: A self-report measure of rumination and dampening. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 32, 507–525. Scholar
  13. Folkman, S., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2000). Positive affect and the other side of coping. American Psychologist, 55, 647–654. Scholar
  14. Folkman, S., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2004). Coping: Pitfalls and promise. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 745–774. Scholar
  15. Ford, J., Kilbert, J. J., Tarantino, N., & Lamis, D. A. (2016). Savouring and self-compassion as protective factors for depression. Stress and Health, 33(2), 119–128. Scholar
  16. Fredrickson, B. L. (2000). Cultivating positive emotions to optimize health and wellbeing. Prevention & Treatment, 3(1), 1a. Scholar
  17. Fredrickson, B. L. (2009). Positivity: Top-notch research reveals the 3-to-1 ratio that will change your life. New York: Harmony. ISBN 978-030-73-9374-6.Google Scholar
  18. Fredrickson, B. L., & Levenson, R. W. (1998). Positive emotions speed recovery from the cardiovascular sequelae of negative emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 12, 191–220. Scholar
  19. Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-052-13-1600-2.Google Scholar
  20. Gable, S. L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology? Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 103–110. Scholar
  21. Gable, S., & Reis, H. (2010). Good news! Capitalizing on positive events in an interpersonal context. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 198–257). New York: Elsevier Press. ISBN 978-012-01-5224-7.Google Scholar
  22. Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 228–245. Scholar
  23. Gallaty, K., & Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J. (2008). The daily social and emotional worlds of adolescents who are psychologically maltreated by their romantic partners. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 37, 310–323. Scholar
  24. Hurley, D. B., & Kwon, P. (2012). Results of a study to increase savoring the moment: Differential impact on positive and negative outcomes. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 579–588. Scholar
  25. Ilies, R., Keeney, J., & Scott, B. A. (2011). Work-family interpersonal capitalization: Sharing positive work events at home. Organization Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 114, 115–126. Scholar
  26. Jose, P. E., Lim, B. T., & Bryant, F. B. (2012). Does savoring increase happiness? A daily diary study. The Journal of Positive Psychology: Dedicated to Furthering Research and Promoting Good Practice, 7, 176–187. Scholar
  27. Kanner, A. D., Coyne, J. C., Schaeffer, C., & Lazarus, R. S. (1981). Comparison of two modes of stress measurement: Daily hassles and uplifts versus major life events. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 1–39. Scholar
  28. Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2000). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage. ISBN 978-141-29-6947-5.Google Scholar
  29. Langston, C. A. (1994). Capitalizing on and coping with daily-life events: Expressive responses to positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1112–1125. Scholar
  30. Lawton, M. P., De Voe, M. R., & Parmelee, P. (1995). Relationship of events and affect in the daily life of an elderly population. Psychology and Aging, 10(3), 469–477. Scholar
  31. Livingstone, K. M., & Srivastava, S. (2012). Up-regulating positive emotions in everyday life: Strategies, individual differences, and associations with positive emotion and well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 504–516. Scholar
  32. Maybery, D. J., & Graham, D. (2001). Hassles and uplifts: Including interpersonal events. Stress and Health, 17, 91–104. Scholar
  33. Monteiro, S. D., & Marques-Pinto, A. (2017). Journalists’ occupational stress: A comparative study between reporting critical events and domestic news. Spanish Journal of Psychology, 20, E34. Scholar
  34. Nelis, D., Quoidbach, J., Hansenne, M., & Mikolajczak, M. (2011). Measuring individual differences in emotion regulation: The Emotion Regulation Profile-Revised (ERP-R). Psychologica Belgica, 51(1), 49–91. Scholar
  35. Nezlek, J. B., & Gable, S. L. (2001). Depression as a moderator of relationships between positive daily events and day-to-day psychological adjustment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1692–1704. Scholar
  36. Pinquart, M., & Sorensen, S. (2004). Association of caregiver stressors and uplifts with subjective wellbeing and depressive mood: A meta-analytic comparison. Aging and Mental Health, 8, 438–449. Scholar
  37. Pintrich, P. R. (2000). Taking control of research on volitional control: Challenges for future theory and research. Learning and Individual Differences, 11(3), 335–354. Scholar
  38. Quoidbach, J., Berry, E. V., Hansenne, M., & Mikolajczak, M. (2010). Positive emotion regulation and well-being: Comparing the impact of eight savoring and dampening strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 368–373. Scholar
  39. Ramsey, M. A., & Gentzler, A. L. (2014). Age differences in subjective well-being across adulthood: The roles of savoring and future time perspective. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 78(1), 3–22. Scholar
  40. Reis, H. T., Smith, S. M., Carmichael, C. L., Caprariello, P. A., Tsai, F. F., Rodrigues, A., et al. (2010). Are you happy for me? How sharing positive events with others provides personal and interpersonal benefits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(2), 311–329. Scholar
  41. Shulman, E. P., Harden, K. P., Chein, J. M., & Steinberg, L. (2015). Sex differences in the developmental trajectories of impulse control and sensation-seeking from early adolescence to early adulthood. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 4(1), 1–17. Scholar
  42. Smith, J. L., & Bryant, F. B. (2012). Are we having fun yet? Savoring, Type A behavior, and vacation enjoyment. International Journal of Wellbeing, 3(1), 1–19. Scholar
  43. Smith, J. L., Harrison, P. R., Kurtz, J. L., & Bryant, F. B. (2014). Nurturing the capacity to savor: Interventions to enhance the enjoyment of positive experiences. In A. C. Parks (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of positive psychological interventions (pp. 42–65). Oxford: Wiley. ISBN 978-111-99-5056-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Thomas, A. (2011). Virtue ethics and an ethics of care: Complementary or in conflict? Eidos, 14, 132–151.Google Scholar
  45. Thompson, R. (1991). Emotional regulation and emotional development. Educational Psychology Review, 3(4), 269–307. Scholar
  46. Wilson, C. A., & Saklofske, D. H. (2017). The relationship between trait emotional intelligence, resiliency, and mental health in older adults: The mediating role of savouring. Aging & Mental Health, 22(5), 646–654. Scholar
  47. Zeidner, M., Boekaerts, M., & Pintrich, P. R. (2000). Self-regulation: Directions and challenges for future research. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 749–768). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. ISBN 978-012-10-9890-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CICPSI, Faculdade de PsicologiaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de PsicologiaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations