Functions of reminiscence and the psychological well-being of young-old and older adults over time

Norm O'Rourke, Philippe Cappeliez, Amy Claxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Existing cross-sectional research demonstrates an association between reminiscence functions and well-being in later life. The results of this study replicate and extend previous findings in separate participant samples above and below 70 years of age. Findings suggest a link between reminiscence functions and psychological well-being, and indirectly between reminiscence and well-being 16 months thereafter. Invariance analyses reveal few differences in association between reminiscence and well-being when young-old (n = 196) and older adults (n = 215) are compared. These findings suggest a direct positive association between self-positive reminiscence functions (identity, death preparation, and problem-solving) and a direct negative association between self-negative functions (boredom reduction, bitterness revival, and intimacy maintenance) and psychological well-being (life satisfaction, depressive, and anxiety symptoms). In contrast, prosocial reminiscence functions (conversation, teach/inform others) appear to have an indirect association with well-being (i.e., via self-positive and self-negative functions). These findings are discussed relative to evolving theory and research linking cognition and health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-281
Number of pages10
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • invariance analyses
  • mental health
  • reminiscence
  • structural equation modeling
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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