Wisdom and life satisfaction in old age (Ardelt, 1997)

In this paper, Monika Ardelt challenged traditional beliefs regarding what leads to successful ageing. Through use of an early form of the three-dimensional wisdom scale, she shows that levels of wisdom have a stronger influence on life satisfaction than objective circumstances. Furthermore, since wisdom is accumulated over a lifetime, adults enter old age with different resources. Therefore, the development of these resources should start early in life to increase likelihood of successful ageing. To see Monika Ardelt discussing the relationship between Wisdom and ageing in more detail, click here.

Abstract: According to previous research findings, objective life conditions such as physical health, socioeconomic status, financial situation, the physical environment and social involvement cannot fully explain the well-being of older persons. Instead, personality characteristics and developmental influences seem to have a stronger impact. This study combines personality and individual development by introducing the ancient but neglected concept of wisdom as a predictor of life satisfaction. Using a sample of 120 elderly women and men from the 1968/69 Berkeley Guidance Study, structural equation models with latent variables show that wisdom (defined as a composite of cognitive, reflective and affective qualities) has a profoundly positive influence on life satisfaction independent of objective circumstances. The inclusion of wisdom as an additional predictor of subjective well-being increases the explanatory power of the model considerably. Gender differences in predictors of life satisfaction are discussed.

Click here to read the original paper


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