VIRTUAL Psychological and Brain Sciences General Talk: Emily Willroth (Northwestern University) – “Digital Transformation Search – Well-being and Health across the Lifespan”

June 15, 2021
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Zoom conference (Virtual)

“Digital Transformation Search – Well-being and Health across the Lifespan”

Hosted by the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences

Abstract: Optimizing well-being is an important goal for many people. This pursuit of greater well-being suggests a lay intuition that well-being is changeable. My research programmatically examines this intuition by investigating shorter-term daily fluctuations and longer-term developmental trajectories of well-being. I apply findings from this research to examine links between well-being and health outcomes in older adulthood, such as chronic conditions, mortality, and dementia risk. In doing so, my research challenges common assumptions about well-being and how it affects health. For example, it is often assumed that life satisfaction only changes over the long-term, and is relatively stable from one moment to the next. My work, however, indicates that some people’s life satisfaction varies dramatically with transient emotional ups and downs. I developed a novel theoretical framework to explain the nature of these fluctuations and what they mean for health. Another common assumption is that well-being improves with age. My research suggests that this is true for some types of well-being (e.g., subjective well-being or “feeling good”), but other aspects of well-being (e.g., sense of purpose) decline during midlife and older adulthood. Yet change in both types of well-being predicts important health outcomes, such as chronic conditions and mortality. In this talk, I will share these and other insights from my research into how well-being functions and how it influences healthy aging and age-related diseases. I will also discuss how I use coordinated data analysis to test whether these findings generalize across diverse groups of adults, and how this method can be leveraged to promote replicable and generalizable lifespan research.

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