New research from Buffalo University and Northwestern University confirms previous studies that as people age, they tend to become happier and more satisfied with their lives.
The new study helps pinpoint one possible reason behind this improvement: people become more trusting as they age, which in turn leads to a number of benefits for their overall well-being.
“When we think of old age, we often think of decline and loss,” Claudia Haase, a professor of social policy and one of the study’s authors, said in a press release. “But a growing body of research shows that some things actually get better as we age.”
The research was composed of two separate studies. In the initial study, researchers looked at the link between age and trust by sampling nearly 200,000 people from 83 countries at different points over the past 30 years. A second, follow-up study, tracked over 1,200 Americans of different ages (Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers) over time.
The increased level of trust found in people as they aged led to improvements in well-being and happiness it was observed.
“Trust may benefit well-being because a sense of trust in other people allows us to derive support, comfort and pleasure from our social relationships,” Haase said. “People who trust more are also happier. Moreover, our study shows that people who trust more are not only happier today, but they also experience increases in happiness over time.”
The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.