Perceived changes in life satisfaction from the past, present and to the future: A Comparison of U.S. and Japan

Joanna H. Hong, Susan T. Charles, Soomi Lee, Margie E. Lachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The current study examined how perceptions of change in life satisfaction vary by age and culture. Perceptions of past, present, and future life satisfaction were examined in adults aged 33-79 from the Midlife in the United States Study (N = 4,803) and from the Survey of Midlife in Japan (N = 974). Both cultures exhibited the same age-related pattern of change in perceptions of life satisfaction. Younger adults perceived improvement in life satisfaction from the past to present and from present to the future. The perceived improvement was more modest among middle-aged adults and then shifted to a decline among older adults. Despite the same curvilinear pattern in both cultures, the perceived improvement was not as positive, and the shift toward expecting declines occurred at an earlier age among Japanese adults compared to U.S. adults. Findings support existing theories of life span development but suggest that cultural context may influence both the positive outlook and the timing of these processes across adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-329
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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