The Happy Boomer Index - Dissertation by Brooke Massey

THE HAPPY BOOMER: BABY BOOMER LIFE SATISFACTION THROUGH AFFECT AND FEELING OF BELONGING A Dissertation by Brooke Massey. The Happy Boomer is copyright Massey (c) 2016. The age cohort of 65 years and older is a growing population. It is part of the group referred to as Baby Boomers, the generation born between the years 1946-1964. It will be the largest population to reach late adulthood to date. In the United States alone, the Baby Boomer cohort is expected to reach 70 million by 2030. In response to this growing elderly population much research has been conducted on Baby Boomer quality of life issues. Such research uncovered the phenomenon known as the well-being paradox. The well-being paradox refers to the findings that older adult’s life satisfaction remains stable or can even increase with age despite age-related losses. Utilizing the theories of positive psychology and socioemotional selectivity, the Happy Boomer project offers an explanation for the well-being paradox. Using data from The Gross National Happiness Index Survey (Happiness Alliance, 2011), the Happy Boomer project analyzed associations between the dependent variable of life satisfaction and the independent variables of positive affect, negative affect, and feeling of belonging for 1,268 individuals ages 65 years and older. No previous research has been found that compares the predictive powers of these specific independent variables on the dependent variable, life satisfaction. Through an ordinal multiple regression, results showed that positive affect had the strongest association with levels of life satisfaction, followed by negative affect and feeling of belonging. Gender was not predictive of life satisfaction. The results also demonstrated the independence of positive affect and negative affect associations with life satisfaction. These findings suggest that affect, specifically positive affect, could mediate the effects of age-related loss as they pertain to life satisfaction for older adults. Furthermore, these findings suggest that Baby Boomers may be able to maintain or increase levels of life satisfaction by focusing on activities that increase positive affect as well as activities that decrease negative affect. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Center, www.ohiolink.edu/etd.

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