Intraindividual Variability and Stability of Affect and Well-Being: Short-Term and Long-Term Change and Stabilization Processes

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Whereas subjective well-being remains relatively stable across adulthood, emotional experiences show remarkable short-term variability, with younger and older adults differing in both amount and correlates. Repeatedly assessed affect data captures both the dynamics and stability as well as stabilization that may indicate emotion-regulatory processes. The article reviews (1) research approaches to intraindividual affect variability, (2) functional implications of affect variability, and (3) age differences in affect variability. Based on this review, we discuss how the broader literature on emotional aging can be better integrated with theories and concepts of intraindividual affect variability by using appropriate methodological approaches. Finally, we show how a better understanding of affect variability and its underlying processes could contribute to the long-term stabilization of well-being in old age.

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