Carol D. Ryff's research while affiliated with University of Wisconsin–Madison and other places

Publications (261)

Article
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality for women in the USA. Women with dyslipidemia have at increased risk of CVD. The parameters of dyslipidemia have primarily been defined using Caucasian male populations. Current lipid markers of dyslipidemia such as high density lipoprotein (HDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL), and trig...
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Envisioning the future of positive psychology (PP) requires looking at its past. To that end, I first review prior critiques of PP to underscore that certain early problems have persisted over time. I then selectively examine recent research to illustrate progress in certain areas as well as draw attention to recurrent problems. Key among them is p...
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Background: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) plays a critical role in protection against atherosclerosic and cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). In addition to contributing to clearing excess vascular cholesterol, HDL particles exhibit antioxidative functions, helping to attenuate adverse effects of oxidized low-density lipoproteins. However, these bene...
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Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a multicomponent risk condition that reflects the clustering of individual cardiometabolic risk factors related to abdominal obesity and insulin resistance. MetS increases the risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, there still is not total clinical consensus about the defini...
Chapter
Historically, mental health research and practice has focused primarily on mental illness or distress. In such a framework, health usually means the absence of the negative. It is increasingly recognized, however, that mental health must also encompass the presence of the positive. One aspect of positive functioning receiving growing attention is p...
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Hearing and vision impairment are highly prevalent chronic conditions and are associated with poorer mental health and well-being. Mental health problems may be exacerbated by COVID-19-related lockdown measures and limitations of in-person contacts may affect those with sensory impairments more severely. We aimed to determine whether hearing and/or...
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The links between spirituality and eudaimonic well-being are examined, beginning with a look at theoretical issues as to whether spirituality is best construed as part of well-being, or as a possible influence on well-being. A brief review of scientific findings from the MIDUS study linking religion and spirituality to well-being and other outcomes...
Article
Objectives Psychological well-being (PWB) may be a potential modifiable risk factor of age-related diseases. We aimed to determine associations of PWB with sensorineural and cognitive function and neuronal health in middle-aged adults. Methods This study included 2039 Beaver Dam Offspring Study participants. We assessed PWB, hearing, visual acuity...
Article
Evidence of cultural differences in relationships and emotions has accumulated over the past few decades. As findings on cultural differences in psychological processes have increased, there has been growing interest in investigating whether they have implications for other phenomena, such as health. Using scientific advances from the MIDUS and MID...
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Purpose Growing evidence indicates that a higher sense of purpose in life ( purpose) is associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases and mortality. However, epidemiological studies have not evaluated if change in purpose is associated with subsequent health and well-being outcomes. Design We evaluated if positive change in purpose (between t 0...
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Emerging research has linked psychological well-being with many physiological markers as well as morbidity and mortality. In this analysis, the relationship between components of eudaimonic well-being and serum sphingolipids levels was investigated using data from a large national survey of middle-aged American adults (Midlife in the United States)...
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Subjective measures of well-being are increasingly seen by scholars and policy makers as valuable tools to assess quality of life. Hedonic accounts focus on people’s experience of life in positive ways while eudaimonic accounts are concerned with realization of personal potential. However, to what extent do an “enjoyable” and a “flourishing” life o...
Article
Objectives: This study describes a major effort to reinstate dropouts from the MIDUS longitudinal study and compare baseline characteristics among subgroups of participants to better understand predictors of retention, attrition, and reinstatement. Methods: All living dropouts were contacted, and 651 reinstated participants were interviewed in pers...
Chapter
We challenge the view that “one is better than none” on grounds that single-item assessments perpetuate a simplistic view of well-being, which is out of touch with how the field has progressed over recent decades. We also question blanket advocacy for measures in the absence of substantive scientific questions that require thoughtful engagement wit...
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of hedonic and eudaimonic approaches to well-being, both with roots traceable to the ancient Greeks. The authors examine the history of each approach and describe scientific endeavors seeking to translate the ideas to empirical assessment tools. They review how these two varieties of well-being are distributed in t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Emerging research has linked psychological well-being with many physiological markers as well as morbidity and mortality. In this analysis, the relationship between components of eudaimonic well-being and serum sphingolipids levels was investigated using data from a large national survey of middle-aged American adults (Midlife in the United States)...
Article
Full-text available
As a self-organizing act, entrepreneurship is a significant feature of and force within modern life that is intimately related to individuals' growth, development, and well-being. We present a dynamic perspective on entrepreneurship and eudaimonic well-being, anchored in philosophical and psychological views on the essence of well-being as well as...
Article
Neural dynamics in response to affective stimuli are linked to momentary emotional experiences. The amygdala, in particular, is involved in subjective emotional experience and assigning value to neutral stimuli. Because amygdala activity persistence following aversive events varies across individuals, some may more readily evaluate subsequent neutr...
Article
Understanding the changing health consequences of childhood socioeconomic disadvantage (SED) is highly relevant to policy debates on inequality and national and state goals to improve population health. However, changes in the strength of association between childhood SED and adult health over historic time are largely unexamined in the United Stat...
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Chile is currently experiencing a progressive epidemiological transition towards chronic diseases. In this country, >50% of annual deaths are attributed to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Moreover, health surveys have shown high prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and elevated cardiovascular disease risk. In addition, mental health is...
Chapter
Empirical studies of purpose in life are flourishing. However, in light of a rapidly changing social milieu, there are pressing but understudied issues to address if purpose research is to realize its potential in impacting people’s lives. We first distill what has been learned from prior research on age variation in purpose in life and briefly rev...
Article
Japan is an exceptionally healthy East Asian country with extended longevity. In addition, the typical levels of several proinflammatory proteins, including both C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), are often reported to be low when compared to American and European populations. This analysis determined if blood levels of CRP and IL-6...
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Background: The aim of this study was to examine the internal consistency, structural validity, and convergent/known-group validity of the Japanese version of the 42-item Psychological Well-Being Scale (PWBS-42). Methods: The PWBS-42 includes six 7-item subscales designed to measure the following dimensions of eudaimonic psychological well-being...
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Objective: In the United States, 28.6 million people used illicit drugs or misused prescription drugs in the last 30 days. Thus, identifying factors linked with lower likelihood of future drug misuse are important targets for research and practice. Sense of purpose in life has been linked with better behavioral and physical health outcomes. Furthe...
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Prior studies have found that conscientiousness has a protective effect against smoking, but evidence for this relationship mostly comes from Western contexts. In societies where smoking is pervasive and less stigmatized, the protective effect of conscientiousness on smoking may be less evident. Moreover, whether smoking is viewed as normal or devi...
Article
Emodiversity, or the variety and relative abundance of emotions experienced, provides a metric that can be used to understand emotional experience and its relation to well-being above and beyond average levels of positive and negative affect. Past research has found that more diverse emotional experiences, both positive and negative, are related to...
Article
Objective: The current study examined race differences in how childhood socioeconomic status (SES) predicted midlife inflammation. It also tested psychological resources (purpose in life, optimism, and conscientiousness) as moderators of the association between childhood SES and inflammation among Black and White adults. Method: Data came from t...
Article
Functional limitations—difficulty in carrying out activities of daily living—have been linked to poorer well-being in Western cultures. This might be partly due to the lower personal control associated with functional limitations. However, compared with the West, in Asian cultural contexts (e.g., Japan) where agency and control are based less predo...
Preprint
The strength of the association between childhood socioeconomic disadvantage (SED) and adult health is an important indicator of health stratification and the degree to which health outcomes are determined early in life. However, changes in the strength of this association over historic time are largely unexamined in the United States. Utilizing da...
Article
Aim: To compare the prevalence of poor glycemic control in probability samples of Japanese and American adults, and to determine the association with their somatic phenotypes. Material and methods: Blood samples and anthropometric measures were obtained from 382 Japanese, 32-79 years of age, randomly selected to reflect the 23 wards of Tokyo. HA...
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Studies have reported relationships between psychological well-being and physical health in Western cultural contexts. However, longitudinal associations between well-being and health have not been examined in other cultures where different values and beliefs about well-being exist. This paper examined whether longitudinal profiles of well-being pr...
Conference Paper
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A stronger sense of purpose in life is hypothesized to reduce the likelihood of drug misuse because it has been linked with several protective factors including: increased ability to handle stress and pain tolerance, decreased impulsivity, and reduced risk of depression and chronic conditions. However, the association between purpose in life and dr...
Article
Rationale: Socioeconomic disadvantage, family instability, and abuse are widely studied early-life adversities (ELAs) that may co-occur in the lives of many. The detrimental effects of these adversities may result in elevated risk of mortality in midlife and old age. Objective: We investigate how combinations of these three ELAs affect later-lif...
Article
A landmark article published in the American Psychologist (Adler et al., 1994) encouraged psychologists to engage in research on socioeconomic inequality and health. Numerous contributions followed to fill in psychosocial and behavioral pathways. Specifically, we review advances on health inequalities research from a large public-use study (Midlife...
Article
The physiological response to stress is intertwined with, but distinct from, the subjective feeling of stress, although both systems must work in concert to enable adaptive responses. We investigated 1,065 participants from the Midlife in the United States 2 study who completed a self-report battery and a stress-induction procedure while physiologi...
Article
Background: Disparities in insulin resistance between Black and White adults in the United States are well documented, yet relatively little is known about the psychosocial or biological antecedents of these inequities. The current study examined childhood adversity and contemporaneous psychosocial stressors in adulthood as possible mediators of t...
Article
Objectives: Eudaimonic well-being (EWB), increasingly recognized as a critical component of health, typically declines in later life, and there are no existing programs to sustain or increase EWB in older adults. Lighten UP! is an 8-week program to promote EWB through facilitated group sessions in community settings and at-home practice. Building o...
Article
Researchers in entrepreneurial studies are increasingly interested in the psychological well-being of entrepreneurs. Approaches to well-being tend to be partitioned into hedonic and eudaimonic formulations. Most entrepreneurial studies have focused on hedonic indicators (life satisfaction, happiness, positive affect). The central objective of this...
Chapter
The theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of eudaimonic well‐being are briefly described, along with its empirical translation to six distinct dimensions of positive functioning. Extensive empirical findings have been generated with these scales and illustrative examples are provided. Eudaimonic well‐being has been shown to decline with aging...
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Current theorizing on socioeconomic status (SES) focuses on the availability of resources and the freedom they afford as a key determinant of the association between high SES and stronger orientation toward the self and, by implication, weaker orientation toward others. However, this work relies nearly exclusively on data from Western countries whe...
Article
Objective: Foundational theoretical perspectives suggest that socioeconomic disadvantage (SED) increases an individual's risk of being exposed to unfair treatment or discrimination. However, little empirical attention has been given to the role of perceived discrimination in the SED-health gradient. Addressing this knowledge gap, the current study...
Article
This essay examines core contributions of a model of psychological well-being that has had widespread scientific impact. It drew on distant formulations to identify new dimensions and measures for assessing what it means to be well. Key themes among the more than 750 studies using the model are sketched, followed by reflections about why there has...
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Objective: Pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes (i.e., hyperglycemia) are characterized by insulin resistance (IR). These problems with energy metabolism may exacerbate emotional reactivity to negatively valenced stimuli and related phenomena like predisposition toward negative affect, as well as cognitive deficits. Higher emotional reactivity is seen...
Article
Objective: We compare physical performance from three U.S. national surveys and nationally representative surveys in England, Taiwan, and Costa Rica. Method: For each performance test, we use local mean smoothing to plot the age profiles by sex and survey wave and then fit a linear regression model to the pooled data, separately by sex, to test...
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We investigate whether socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood shapes adult health lifestyles in domains of physical activity (leisure, work, chores) and diet (servings of healthy [i.e., nutrient-dense] vs. unhealthy [energy-dense] foods). Physical activity and food choices vary by gender and are key factors in the development of metabolic syndrome...
Article
Neuroticism, a broad personality trait linked to negative emotions, is consistently linked to ill health when self-report is used to assess health. However, when health risk is assessed with biomarkers, the evidence is inconsistent. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the association between neuroticism and biological health risk is moderated by be...
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Background Psychological correlates of blood lipid levels have been previously evaluated mostly in cross sectional studies. However, prospectively measured psychological factors might also predict favorable blood lipid profiles, thereby indicating a healthy mind/body interplay that is associated with less disease, better health and longer lives. Me...
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We evaluate the variability in estimates of self-reported physical limitations by age across four nationally representative surveys in the US. We consider its implications for determining whether, as previous literature suggests, the US estimates reveal limitations at an earlier age than in three countries with similar life expectancy: England, Tai...
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Higher levels of positive affect have been associated with better physical health. While positive affect is seen as highly desirable among Westerners, East Asians tend to deemphasize positive affect. Using large probability samples of Japanese and U.S. adult populations, the present study examined the relations of positive affect with serum lipid p...
Article
Although psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, have long been studied as factors that contribute to poorer health (broadly defined) over time, it is only in the last few years that psychological strengths have emerged as having possible protective influences on health. One such strength is purpose in life, which was first formula...
Article
Insufficient and disrupted sleep is linked with cardiovascular and metabolic dysregulation and morbidity. The current study examines the degree to which differences in sleep between black/African American (AA) and white/European American (EA) adults explain racial differences in cardiometabolic (CMB) disease risk. Total sleep time and sleep efficie...
Article
Objectives: We investigate (a) the extent to which healthy lifestyles (physical activity and diet) explain the association between childhood disadvantage and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in midlife, and (b) whether there are gender differences in the associations. Methods: Data on 1,054 respondents came from the Biomarker Subsample of the Midlife in t...
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The theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of a eudaimonic model of well-being are examined, and its empirical translation into distinct dimensions of well-being is described. Empirical findings have documented aging declines in eudaimonic well-being, but there is considerable variability within age groups. Among older adults who remain purpos...
Article
Objective: To examine associations between glucoregulation and 3 categories of psychological resources: hedonic well-being (i.e., life satisfaction, positive affect), eudaimonic well-being (i.e., personal growth, purpose in life, ikigai), and interdependent well-being (i.e., gratitude, peaceful disengagement, adjustment) among Japanese adults. The...
Article
Guided by the stress process model and the life course perspective, we hypothesize: (1) that childhood abuse is concentrated, in terms of type and intensity, among socially disadvantaged individuals, and (2) that experiencing serious abuse contributes to poor biological profiles in multiple body systems in adulthood. Data came from the Biomarker su...
Article
In the published article we unintentionally missed to provide references to study #4 (see Table 1). The source data of study #4 were kindly provided by the TRAILS consortium (Rosmalen et al., 2005). Accordingly the author list has been amended by including Judith G.M. Rosmalen and Albertine J. Oldehinkel, who implemented and supervised the data col...
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Purpose of review: Research on psychological well-being in later life has identified strengths and vulnerabilities that occur with aging. We review the conceptual and philosophical foundations of a eudaimonic model of well-being and its empirical translation into six key dimensions of positive functioning. We also consider its implications for hea...
Article
Drawing on conceptual models of critical periods, major life transitions, and life pathways, we proposed that the life-course features of parenthood are important, but understudied, mechanisms for explaining possibly gendered heart-health outcomes. Using three waves from the Midlife in the U.S. Study (MIDUS), we investigated (a) gender differences...
Chapter
This chapter examines a model of eudaimonic well-being (Ryff CD, J Personal Soc Psychol 57(6):1069–1081, 1989) that was built on points of convergence in multiple conceptions of optimal human functioning. Together, these perspectives are shown to be in the spirit of Aristotle’s eudaimonia. His guidelines for how to live gave emphasis to realization...
Article
Objective: Disparities in sleep duration and efficiency between Black/African American (AA) and White/European American (EA) adults are well-documented. The objective of this study was to examine neighborhood disadvantage as an explanation for race differences in objectively measured sleep. Methods: Data were from 133 AA and 293 EA adults who pa...
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The role of early life adversity (ELA) in the development of health disparities has not received adequate attention. The current study examined differential exposure and differential vulnerability to ELA as explanations for socioeconomic and racial disparities in body mass index (BMI). Data were derived from a sample of 150 college students (M age...
Article
Objective: High frequency (HF) heart rate variability (HRV) has long been accepted as an index of cardiac vagal control. Recent studies report relationships between HF-HRV and indices of positive and negative affect, personality traits and well-being but these studies generally are based on small and selective samples. Method: These relationship...
Article
Healthy eating is important for physical health. Using large probability samples of middle-aged adults in the United States and Japan, we show that fitting with the culturally normative way of being predicts healthy eating. In the United States, a culture that prioritizes and emphasizes independence, being independent predicts eating a healthy diet...
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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfated form, DHEA-S, peak in young adulthood and then decrease dramatically with age. However, there is extensive variation in this age-related hormone decline, suggesting an early decrement may be associated with lower vitality and be prognostic of poor health in old age. To determine whether DHEA-S and DHEA...
Article
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Objectives: To examine changes in sleep problems over a 1.5-year period among Black or African American (AA) and White or European American (EA) college students and to consider the role of racial discrimination as a mediator of race differences in sleep problems over time. Method: Students attending a large, predominantly White university (N =...
Article
Diurnal salivary cortisol profiles are valuable indicators of adrenocortical functioning in epidemiological research and clinical practice. However, normative reference values derived from a large number of participants and across a wide age range are still missing. To fill this gap, data were compiled from 15 independently conducted field studies...
Article
Previous studies have shown that positive affect (PA) and social connectedness predict better health in the United States (U.S.). However, the relevance of such findings for other cultural contexts has been largely ignored. The present study investigated the interplay of PA, social connectedness, and health using large probability samples of Japane...
Article
Background Family history of diabetes is one of the major risk factors for diabetes, but significant variability in this association remains unexplained, suggesting the presence of important effect modifiers. Purpose To our knowledge, no previous work has examined whether psychological factors moderate the degree to which family history of diabetes...
Article
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The Great Recession of 2007–2009 is regarded as the most severe economic downturn since World War II. This study examined relationships between reported recession hardships and physical health in a national survey of American adults (N = 1275). Furthermore, education and psychological resources (perceived control, purpose in life, and conscientious...
Article
Decline in executive functioning (EF) is a hallmark of cognitive aging. We have previously reported that faster vagal recovery from cognitive challenge is associated with better EF. This study examined the association between vagal recovery from cognitive challenge and age-related differences in EF among 817 participants in the Midlife in the U.S....
Chapter
This chapter reviews philosophical foundations of the eudaimonic approach, and along the way notes its distinctiveness from hedonic conceptions of psychological well-being. It talks about the psychological foundations of the eudaimonic approach, which were built on the integration of multiple conceptions of positive functioning from clinical, devel...
Research
Objectives: To examine changes in sleep problems over a 1.5 year period among Black/African American (AA) and White/European American (EA) college students, and consider the role of racial discrimination as a mediator of race differences in sleep problems over time.