Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 375–405 | Cite as

Age Differences in Perceived Positive Affect, Negative Affect, and Affect Balance in Middle and Old Age



Meta-analysis was used to synthesize findings from 125 studies on age differences in positive affect, negative affect, and affect balance. We found a small age-associated decline of positive affect and affect balance, and a small age-associated increase of negative affect. In addition, a quadratic age trend emerged, showing stronger declines of positive affect and stronger increases of negative affect in older subjects. Looking at changes of specific emotions, we found an age-associated decline of those positive and negative feelings that are associated with high arousal (e.g., feeling excited or upset), and an age-associated increase of positive and negative low-arousal emotions (e.g., feeling relaxed or depressed). Furthermore, older adults from the former communist Eastern European countries showed the strongest age-associated decline of positive affect and the strongest age-associated increase of negative affect. We conclude that age-associated losses in the oldest old and economic hardship make the optimization of subjective well-being increasingly difficult.

subjective well-being happiness life-span development gerontology meta-analysis cross-cultural research 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental PsychologyUniversity of JenaJenaGermany

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