Is an active imagination one of the keys to aging well?

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Anecdotal evidence suggests that elderly people more open to experience may age more successfully. In this study, we tested whether openness to experience was associated with memory and everyday functioning. We also investigated the role of intelligence on this association, and considered which facets of openness were related to successful ageing. Seventy participants, aged 74–90 years, completed tests of fluid reasoning, crystallised abilities, the primary battery of the Wechsler memory scale-III, the everyday problems test and the openness to experience scale from the NEO PI-R. Results confirmed that elderly adults more open to experience had superior immediate and delayed memory and better everyday functioning skills. However, statistical control of fluid reasoning reduced this association to non-significant levels. At the facet level for openness, results confirmed that openness to ideas and values were important to successful ageing, but also suggested openness to fantasy (active imagination). Results suggest that an active imagination helps memory and everyday functioning for elderly people, and confirm that fluid reasoning accounts for the influence of openness on successful ageing.

Source: “Openness to experience, intelligence, and successful ageing” from Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 48, Issue 8, June 2010, Pages 895-899

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