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The science of happiness: What makes people satisfied with their lives?

A meticulous and expansive global study has unveiled intricate patterns in life satisfaction and emotional states across various age demographics.

The extensive participant pool comprised 460,902 individuals across 443 samples, providing a diverse spectrum of data. This was essential to discerning patterns in subjective well-being throughout different life stages.

Core findings on life satisfaction

The researchers focused primarily on exploring alterations in life satisfaction, positive emotional states, and negative emotional states. Professor Susanne Bücker, who initiated the project at Ruhr University Bochum before transitioning to German Sport University, Cologne, illuminated the study’s core insights.

Life satisfaction reportedly experiences a decrement from the ages of 9 to 16, sees a subtle elevation until the age of 70, and then witnesses a gradual decline until 96. The decline during adolescence is chiefly associated with the tumultuous phase of puberty and its consequential impacts on physical and social development.

Conversely, negative emotional states exhibit variability from ages 9 to 22, decrease progressively until 60, and then ascend once again.

In contrast, positive emotional states predominantly undergo a decline from ages 9 to 94. The research reveals a pronounced median change in both positive and negative emotional states compared to life satisfaction.

Age and emotion: A positive trend

Summarizing the findings, Professor Bücker emphasized the predominantly positive trend in life satisfaction and negative emotional states spanning a substantial period of one’s life.

Notably, satisfaction experiences a resurgence from early adulthood, notwithstanding the diminishment of positive states from childhood to late adulthood.

However, all aspects of subjective well-being tend to face deterioration in extremely late adulthood. The researchers theorize that this could be attributed to several factors. These include the decline in physical performance, deterioration of health, and the decrease in social contacts experienced by older individuals, primarily due to the loss of peers.

Implications for future interventions

This extensive research serves as a pivotal resource, enlightening the understanding of subjective well-being across various life stages. The insights derived are invaluable for devising targeted intervention strategies, especially those aimed at alleviating the challenges faced by older adults.

By focusing on mitigating the decline in life satisfaction and emotional states in later life stages, interventions can significantly enhance the quality of life for older people. This would involve treating their unique needs and circumstances.

Comprehensive insights on life satisfaction

In summary, this important study offers profound insights into the intricate patterns of life satisfaction, happiness, and emotional states across different age groups. The detailed analysis and diverse participant pool ensure the reliability and relevance of the findings, serving as a beacon for future research and intervention strategies.

The emphasis on life stages, from puberty to extremely late adulthood, presents a holistic view, elucidating the multifaceted nature of human emotional states and satisfaction levels throughout life. By leveraging these insights, there is immense potential to enhance subjective well-being and life satisfaction for individuals at every stage of life.

The study was executed by researchers from prominent universities such as the German Sport University, Cologne, Ruhr University Bochum, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, and the Universities of Bern and Basel in Switzerland.

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