With Age, World Becomes “Mostly Good”

By Alex Dixon | July 16, 2008 | 0 comments

A positive outlook on life isn't generally associated with old age—on the contrary, the stereotypical "grumpy old man" may come to mind. But a new study suggests that as we get older, we increasingly think of the world as generally good, and those of us who do are happier.

The study, published earlier this year in the journal Psychology and Aging, examined roughly 2,000 people over a two-year period. Researchers Michael Poulin at the University of Michigan and Roxane Silver at UC Irvine gave participants several surveys that asked them about their well-being, how religious they were, and whether they thought the world and human nature were basically good.

Researchers compared the data with the participants' age and found a correlation: The older the person, the more good they saw around them, and the better they felt emotionally. The results suggest that older adults–particularly those 50 years old and up–who see the world as "mostly good" are also likely to experience a general sense of well-being.

Not so for younger adults. For them, a positive outlook and well-being appear unrelated.

"In sum, our research implies that a positive view of the world may not be crucial for the young," the researchers write. "But seeing the world as more good than bad and people as more trustworthy than not is a source of well-being for older adults."

Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 

Greater Good wants to know:
Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

  • Very Likely

  • Likely

  • Unlikely

  • Very Unlikely

  • Not sure

 
About The Author

Alex Dixon is a Greater Good editorial assistant.

  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Most...

  
  

Greater Good Events

The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2017
Clark Kerr Campus, UC-Berkeley
Sunday, June 25 - Friday, June 30, 2017 OR Sunday, July 16 - Friday, July 21, 2017


The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2017

The GGSC’s six-day Summer Institute equips education professionals with prosocial learning strategies, tools and processes that benefit both students and teachers.


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

Roots of Empathy By Mary Gordon Mary Gordon explains how best to nurture empathy and social emotional literacy in all children—and thereby reduce aggression, antisocial behavior, and bullying.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement