Measuring experiential well-being among older adults

Experienced well-being measures tap a distinct form of subjective well-being (SWB) and have different age-related properties than the more widely studied evaluations of life satisfaction. Unlike evaluations of the quality of life as a whole, experiential measures capture affective reactions soon after they occur. Recent advances in measurement have allowed for the inclusion of such experiential measures even in large-scale studies. However, respondent burden remains a concern; hence, surveys have also employed shorter experiential modules. The psychometric properties of these brief measures are not well understood. We examine the psychometric characteristics, including the factor structure and correlations with theoretically relevant criteria, of experienced wellbeing measures included in two supplements to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The first supplement included a detailed time diary whereas the second included a brief review of the prior day. Results show that for the detailed time diaries a single index of affective experience provides a useful summary of the associations among individual affect items, both within and between participants. For the abbreviated method, two or more subscales better describe the underlying structure.