Hope for the future and avoidance of the present: associations with well-being in older adults

Susan J. Ferguson*, Alan J. Taylor, Catherine McMahon

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Positive psychology and third wave cognitive behavioral therapy approaches have seldom been applied to older adults. This study therefore examined whether two concepts drawn from these areas, hope for the future and avoidance in the present, were associated with well-being in a sample of 259 older adults (65–94 years). Hope was measured as a stable trait. Experiential avoidance was measured as avoidance of present internal and external events. Respondents also completed two well-being measures: hedonic (positive and negative affect) and eudeimonic (meaning in life). Path analyses showed that high hope was significantly associated with high positive affect, and high meaning in life; and high experiential avoidance was associated with high negative affect and low meaning in life. This was also true when both (hope and avoidance) were taken into account, along with sociodemographic variables and perceived health. Many of the pathways between hope and well-being, and between experiential avoidance and well-being appear to be bidirectional. However the path from hope to positive affect was stronger than that from positive affect to hope. Further research is needed to clarify each of these points. Both hope for the future and lack of avoidance in the present are important for well-being in older adulthood and interventions targeting these processes may enhance positive aging and contribute to a sense of having a meaningful life.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1485-1506
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


    • hope
    • experiential avoidance
    • older adults
    • meaning in life
    • positive affect
    • negative affect


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