Age differences in the experience of everyday happiness: The role of thinking about the future

Yoonseok CHOI, Jennifer LAY, Minjie LU, Da JIANG, Matthew PENG, Helene H. FUNG, Peter GRAF, Christiane A. HOPPMANN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Happiness can be experienced differently in young as compared to older adulthood, possibly due to shifts in temporal focus and differences in preferences for high- versus low-arousal affective states. The current project aimed to replicate initial evidence on age-related differences in the experience of happiness by investigating the positive affective correlates of everyday happiness; we further explored the role of thinking about the future in moderating such associations. We used daily life assessments from 257 participants (Mage = 48.3, SDage = 24.6; 68% female; 77% Asian [East Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian]; 73% postsecondary educated), combining four data sets collected at two locations (Vancouver, Canada; Hong Kong) with different age samples (older and younger adults). Participants provided up to 30 repeated daily life assessments of momentary affective states and thoughts about the future, over 10 days. Results replicate previous findings by showing that happiness was more strongly associated with low-arousal positive affect and more weakly associated with high-arousal positive affect among older compared to younger adults. Engagement in thinking about the future was higher among younger compared to older adults in general, but its role in moderating the association between happiness and positive affect varying in arousal levels was confounded by the age moderation. Separate analyses conducted for each age group indicate different roles of everyday thinking about the future in shaping happiness experiences for different age groups. Age and future thinking-related contours of happiness are discussed in the context of emotional aging theories. Copyright © 2023 American Psychological Association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number1
Early online dateOct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


Choi, Y., Lay, J., Lu, M., Jiang, D., Peng, M., Fung, H. H., Graf, P., & Hoppmann, C. A. (2024). Age differences in the experience of everyday happiness: The role of thinking about the future. Psychology and Aging, 39(1), 1-13.


  • Happiness
  • Arousal
  • Future time perspective
  • Socioemotional selectivity theory
  • Affect valuation theory


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