Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Life Satisfaction of Korean Older Adults: The Roles of Chronological and Subjective Age and Appearance Management

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Life Satisfaction of Korean Older Adults: The Roles of Chronological and Subjective Age and Appearance Management

Article excerpt

For people of various ages, including those aged 65 years and over, the concept of life satisfaction concerns their evaluation of their positive affect and overall life satisfaction (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985). Life satisfaction is, thus, used as a means to predict individual adaptation and mental health (Pavot & Diener, 1993). In addition, the degree of life satisfaction or quality of life can be used as an index to investigate successful aging in older adults (Mock & Eibach, 2011; Öztop, Şener, Güven, & Doğan, 2009). When people reach maturity in adulthood, the aging process begins. When adulthood has been reached, and particularly during old age, there are individual differences in all mental and physical aspects of the speed of aging, even among people of the same chronological age. Therefore, issues related to life satisfaction and age in older adults are of continued interest to researchers, who, however, have differing views. For example, in the modernization theory of aging (e.g., Cowgill & Holmes, 1972), it is proposed that among older adults there is a negative correlation between their age and their life satisfaction. In contrast, in the selection-optimization-compensation model (e.g., Baltes & Baltes, 1990) a positive correlation is supported; for example, Gaymu and Springer (2010) reported that older age predicts an increase in life satisfaction, a situation known as the well-being paradox (Hansen & Slagsvold, 2012; Robnett, 2002).

Despite these conflicting results, researchers have suggested that people's perceived life satisfaction is stable and is influenced more by their subjective psychological factors than by the objective situation of being in old age (Chung, Lee, & Han, 2017; Fujita & Diener, 2005). The subjective psychological aspects regarding age are referred to as age identity (Logan, Ward, & Spitze, 1992). In other words, subjective age refers to the age that people think of themselves as being, according to their living experience and the aging process. Thus, although chronological age, which serves as an objective standard of human development and which cannot be changed artificially, is important, the subjective perception older adults have of their age can be an important index for understanding them. Indeed, many scholars have shown that subjective age is more critical than chronological age for explaining life satisfaction (see, e.g., Chung et al., 2017; Logan et al., 1992; Montepare & Lachman, 1989).

Changes in appearance, such as hair loss, graying of the hair, and facial wrinkles, are the most noticeable visible changes in aging. In general, people evaluate other people's inner characteristics and traits by their appearance, which is a way for individuals to express themselves, and which, in addition to their age, contributes to the formation of their individual identity (Cash, 1990). Therefore, as appearance management is influenced by self-perception and others' perception, people strive to create their visual image and to gain others' understanding by managing their appearance. As personal hygiene and appearance management are the most basic activities of daily living, older adults feel self-satisfied and secure in their interpersonal relationships when they have a well-groomed appearance (Lee, 2007).

Previous researchers have indicated the importance of appearance management for life satisfaction. For example, Bruch, Berko, and Haase (1998) stated that people's positive perception of their appearance and physical attractiveness makes it easier to experience life satisfaction and desirable emotions. When H. R. Kim (2014) interviewed people in Korea aged 60 or over, their respondents answered that they manage their appearance for their self-satisfaction and quality of life. However, when older adults perceive changes in their appearance owing to aging as a physical loss, they are more likely to think that their lives are worthless, and to be unsociable (Blazer, 1998). …

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