The aim of this study is to improve our understanding of age-graded differences in psychological flexibility, by examining the relationship between (subcomponents of) psychological flexibility and age in a large Dutch general population sample (N = 1770; Mage (SD) = 55.77 (14.31); range 18-92; 36.3% male and 63.7% female respondents). Gender, education, marital status, employment and positive affect were included as covariates. The results show that an inverted U-shaped model best supported the relationship between psychological flexibility and age, with an estimated peak at 59.44 years. The same inverted U-shape was observed for subcomponents “defusion” and “contact with the present moment”, with estimated peaks at the age of respectively 60.24 and 62.86 years. A negative cubic relationship was observed for the subcomponent “acceptance”, with an estimated minimum and maximum at 29.85 and 62.60 years old. The relationship between “self as context” and age was best supported by a positive linear function, while for “committed action” a negative linear model was observed. Lastly, the relationship between “values” and age was not significant. Demographic variables (except for gender) and positive affect played a significant role. The results suggest, overall, that the ability to flexibly deal with situations, thoughts and feelings and to lead a meaningful life is strongest for individuals around the age of 60.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy
- psychological flexibility