Cultural Variability in the Association Between Age and Well-Being: The Role of Uncertainty Avoidance

Smaranda Ioana Lawrie, Kimin Eom, Daniela Moza, Alin Gavreliuc, Heejung S. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Past research has found a mixed relationship between age and subjective well-being. The current research advances the understanding of these findings by incorporating a cultural perspective. We tested whether the relationship between age and well-being is moderated by uncertainty avoidance, a cultural dimension dealing with society’s tolerance for ambiguity. In Study 1 (N = 64,228), using a multilevel approach with an international database, we found that older age was associated with lower well-being in countries higher in uncertainty avoidance but not in countries lower in uncertainty avoidance. Further, this cultural variation was mediated by a sense of control. In Study 2 (N = 1,025), we compared a culture with low uncertainty avoidance (the United States) with a culture with high uncertainty avoidance (Romania) and found a consistent pattern: Age was negatively associated with well-being in Romania but not in the United States. This cultural difference was mediated by the use of contrasting coping strategies associated with different levels of a sense of control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • aging
  • culture
  • open data
  • open materials
  • uncertainty avoidance
  • well-being


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