We propose a renewal to our currently funded NIA Roybal Center for Translational Research on Aging at Princeton University, with the overall objectives of (1) continuing our development of new methods for the measurement of well-being and health that aggregate particular experiences rather than eliciting global evaluations and (2) using them to better understand and document the experience of aging. We propose to refine and extend a shift to a bottom-up conceptualization of well-being to enhance our ability to understand numerous facets of the aging process by clearly separating actual experiences of daily life from the cognitive processes that give rise to reports of life satisfaction or overall happiness. We will show our current application of bottom-up methods has improved our understanding of apparent anomalies in self-reported well-being and health and has provided insights into the process of adaptation to changing circumstances. These new methods have allowed detailed analyses of the contribution of different circumstances (e.g., chronic disease, widowhood) and situations (e.g., working, socializing with friends) to the overall quality of life, and of how these contributions change over a person's life cycle. The combination of measurements of the affective experience of situations and activities (e.g., commuting, housework) with measurements of the time spent by the population in these activities, currently collected by the Department of Labor Statistics, should contribute to the development of an experimental system of National Well-being Accounts during the proposed study period. As per the goals of the Roybal RFA, we do not expect to produce definitive answers to all of questions addressed in the proposal;our goal is to extend the work from the current grant to support subsequent large-scale studies.
The newly developed instruments will increase our ability to accurately assess the activities, emotions, and symptoms of peoples'everyday lives, which has wide application for policy, social science and medical research.
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