Obligatory and optional personal life investments in old and very old age: Validation and functional relations

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Personal life investment (PLI) measures motivational energy invested in central life domains. We distinguished between obligatory PLIs, that is, required investments, and optional PLIs, that is, investments that are possible but not necessary. Data from the Berlin Aging Study (N = 516; 70–103 years) were employed to investigate the validity of this distinction. We further explored how both PLI types relate to aging satisfaction and whether associations with validation variables and satisfaction differed depending on resource limitations (poor health). As expected based on conceptual affinities between the distinctions of obligatory-optional PLI and approach-avoidance tendencies, both PLI types showed positive relations with extraversion (a correlate of approach), but only obligatory PLI was positively related to neuroticism (a correlate of avoidance). Optional PLI (not obligatory PLI) was related to higher aging satisfaction, but only in fairly healthy people. This underscores differential functional relations of optional PLI depending on resource availability.

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