Publications by authors named "Carol D Ryff"

126 Publications

Association between serum sphingolipids and eudaimonic well-being in white U.S. adults.

Sci Rep 2021 Jun 23;11(1):13139. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

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). Health behaviors (i.e., diet, exercise, and sleep) were also examined as potential mediators of these relationships. Serum levels of total ceramides-the main molecular class of sphingolipids previously associated with several disease conditions-were inversely linked with environmental mastery. In addition, significant correlations were found between specific ceramide, dihydroceramide, and hexosylceramides species with environmental mastery, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Using hierarchical regression and mediation analyses, health behaviors appeared to mediate these associations. However, the link between ceramides and environmental mastery was partially independent of health behaviors, suggesting the role of additional mediating factors. These findings point to sphingolipid metabolism as a novel pathway of health benefits associated with psychological well-being. In particular, having a sense of environmental mastery may promote restorative behaviors and benefit health via improved blood sphingolipid profiles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92576-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8222370PMC
June 2021

Who Returns? Understanding Varieties of Longitudinal Participation in MIDUS.

J Aging Health 2021 May 17:8982643211018552. Epub 2021 May 17.

5228University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

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. All living dropouts were contacted, and 651 reinstated participants were interviewed in person (31.4% response rate). Age, gender, education, marital status, parental status, and physical and mental health were compared among the following groups: longitudinal sample, reinstated sample, those fielded for reinstatement who did not return, and those who dropped out at the 2nd or 3rd wave. Multivariate analyses revealed that reinstated participants were younger, male, unmarried, and less educated and had children at baseline compared to longitudinal participants. Reinstatement was unsuccessful among those with poorer mental health at baseline compared to longitudinal participants. This study informs reinstatement efforts, adjustment for attrition bias, and use of to examine aging consequents of early life vulnerability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/08982643211018552DOI Listing
May 2021

Linking Amygdala Persistence to Real-World Emotional Experience and Psychological Well-Being.

J Neurosci 2021 Apr 22;41(16):3721-3730. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida 33124

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 evaluate subsequent neutral stimuli more negatively than others. This may lead to more frequent and long-lasting momentary emotional experiences, which may also be linked to self-evaluative measures of psychological well-being (PWB). Despite extant links between daily affect and PWB, few studies have directly explored the links between amygdala persistence, daily affective experience, and PWB. To that end, we examined data from 52 human adults (67% female) in the Midlife in the United States study who completed measures of PWB, daily affect, and functional MRI (fMRI). During fMRI, participants viewed affective images followed by a neutral facial expression, permitting quantification of individual differences in the similarity of amygdala representations of affective stimuli and neutral facial expressions that follow. Using representational similarity analysis, neural persistence following aversive stimuli was operationalized as similarity between the amygdala activation patterns while encoding negative images and the neutral facial expressions shown afterward. Individuals demonstrating less persistent activation patterns in the left amygdala to aversive stimuli reported more positive and less negative affect in daily life. Further, daily positive affect served as an indirect link between left amygdala persistence and PWB. These results clarify important connections between individual differences in brain function, daily experiences of affect, and well-being. At the intersection of affective neuroscience and psychology, researchers have aimed to understand how individual differences in the neural processing of affective events map onto to real-world emotional experiences and evaluations of well-being. Using a longitudinal dataset from 52 adults in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study, we provide an integrative model of affective functioning: less amygdala persistence following negative images predicts greater positive affect (PA) in daily life, which in turn predicts greater psychological well-being (PWB) seven years later. Thus, day-to-day experiences of PA comprise a promising intermediate step that links individual differences in neural dynamics to complex judgements of PWB.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1637-20.2021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8055079PMC
April 2021

A Changing Landscape of Health Opportunity in the United States: Increases in the Strength of Association Between Childhood Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Adult Health Between the 1990s and the 2010s.

Am J Epidemiol 2021 Mar 12. Epub 2021 Mar 12.

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

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 States. The current study begins to address this knowledge gap. Data were from two national samples of adults collected in 1995 (n = 7,108) and 2012 (n = 3,577) as part of the Midlife in the United States study. Three measures of childhood SED (parent occupational prestige, childhood poverty exposure, and parent education) were combined into an aggregate index and examined separately. The association between childhood SED (aggregate index) and five health outcomes (BMI, waist circumference, chronic conditions, functional limitations, and self-rated health) was stronger in the 2012 sample than the 1995 sample, with the magnitude of associations being approximately twice as large in the more recent sample. Results persisted after adjusting for age, sex, race, marital status, and number of children, and were similar across all three measures of childhood SED. The findings suggest that the socioeconomic circumstances of childhood may have become a stronger predictor of adult health in recent decades.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwab060DOI Listing
March 2021

Mediterranean Lifestyle to Promote Physical, Mental, and Environmental Health: The Case of Chile.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020 11 16;17(22). Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Departamento de Nutrición, Diabetes y Metabolismo, Escuela de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago CP 83300024, Chile.

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 issues are also frequent among Chilean adults. On the other hand, the agri-food system contributes to 21-37% of greenhouse gases emissions worldwide. Overall, current health and food chain situation calls out for design and implementation of evidence-based feasible and effective nutritional interventions needed to promote physical and mental health along with addressing food sustainability in Chile. Nowadays, the Mediterranean diet is recognized as one of the healthiest dietary patterns based on observational and interventional studies linked to a wide variety of health outcomes. However, a Mediterranean lifestyle goes well beyond food intake: it includes promotion of psychosocial resources, community life as well as cultural traditions. Indeed, Mediterranean lifestyle is a true that integrally promotes physical, mental, and social well-being. In addition, the Mediterranean diet stands out for its environmental sustainability because it is characterized mainly as a plant-based dietary pattern with low carbon and water footprints. Remarkably, Central Chile has a Mediterranean-like setting with plant and animal food production and availability patterns comparable to those present in countries located around the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, this article reviews how promotion of Mediterranean lifestyle adherence in Chile offers great potential for management of the ongoing epidemiological transition to chronic diseases as well to promote psychological well-being within a unique food system and dietary sustainability vision for this Latin American country.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228482DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7696560PMC
November 2020

Disagreement about recommendations for measurement of well-being.

Prev Med 2020 10;139:106049

University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States of America.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106049DOI Listing
October 2020

Cultural and life style practices associated with low inflammatory physiology in Japanese adults.

Brain Behav Immun 2020 11 14;90:385-392. Epub 2020 Aug 14.

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, United States; Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, United States.

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 were associated with 4 cultural practices reflective of Japanese behavior and customs -- drinking tea, eating seafood, consuming vegetables, and partaking in relaxing baths regularly - among 382 adults living in Tokyo. Regression models controlled for demographic factors, adiposity (BMI), physical exercise, smoking, alcohol use, and chronic illness (e.g., diabetes). Consuming a Japanese diet was associated with significantly lower CRP and IL-6 levels. More frequent bathing was associated with lower IL-6, but not specifically predictive of low CRP. This study has confirmed prior evidence for low inflammatory activity in Japanese adults and its association with several behavioral practices common in Japan.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2020.08.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7544652PMC
November 2020

Conscientiousness and Smoking: Do Cultural Context and Gender Matter?

Front Psychol 2020 7;11:1593. Epub 2020 Jul 7.

Institute on Aging and Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, United States.

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 deviant also may vary by gender norms attached to smoking. Using surveys of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) and Japan (MIDJA), we examined patterns in the association between conscientiousness and smoking status (never, former, current) for men and women. We found that in the United States, where the social unacceptability of smoking has dramatically increased, there is an inverse association between conscientiousness and smoking status for both genders. In Japan, where the stigma attached to smoking operates for women but not men, the association between conscientiousness and smoking status varies by gender. For Japanese men, levels of conscientiousness do not differ across smoking statuses. For Japanese women, those who formerly smoked show lower levels of conscientiousness than those who never smoked and those who currently smoke. We interpret these findings in light of differing cultural and historical backgrounds of smoking for men and women.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01593DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7358448PMC
July 2020

Emodiversity, health, and well-being in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) daily diary study.

Emotion 2020 Apr 9. Epub 2020 Apr 9.

Department of Psychology.

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 better mental and physical health outcomes. The present research aimed to test the relationship between positive and negative emodiversity across the span of 8 days with measures of health and well-being using 2 samples of the Midlife in the United States study (http://midus.wisc.edu/). Participants ( = 2,788) reported emotional states (14 negative, 13 positive) once each day for 8 days. Emodiversity scores were computed for each day using an adaptation of Shannon's biodiversity index and averaged across the days. All models included average affect and demographic covariates. Greater positive emodiversity was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety and fewer physical health symptoms but was not related to eudaimonic well-being nor cognitive functioning. In contrast to previous research, greater negative emodiversity was related to more symptoms of depression and anxiety and more physical health symptoms. Greater negative emodiversity was only associated with one positive outcome: better executive functioning. These findings illustrate inconsistencies across studies in whether negative emodiversity is associated with better or worse outcomes and raise further questions about how the construct of emodiversity can be better refined. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000753DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7544683PMC
April 2020

Childhood socioeconomic status and inflammation: Psychological moderators among Black and White Americans.

Health Psychol 2020 Jun 26;39(6):497-508. Epub 2020 Mar 26.

Department of Psychology.

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 the biomarker subsamples of the Midlife in the United States Core and Refresher studies (n = 1,578 White and n = 395 Black participants). Childhood SES was operationalized as a composite of parental education, perceived financial status, and welfare status. Outcomes included circulating IL-6 and CRP.

Results: Childhood SES did not predict IL-6 or CRP among Black or White adults in fully adjusted models. Among Black adults with low optimism, lower childhood SES predicted higher IL-6 and CRP. Among Black adults with low purpose in life, lower childhood SES predicted higher CRP (but not IL-6). Conscientiousness did not moderate childhood SES-inflammation associations among Black adults. Among White adults with low conscientiousness or low optimism, lower childhood SES predicted higher IL-6 (but not CRP). Purpose in life did not moderate associations among White adults. Effect sizes were small (≤1% variance explained) and comparable to effects of clinical risk factors in this sample (e.g., age, chronic conditions).

Conclusions: Race differences in the childhood SES and inflammation association were not apparent. Childhood SES was linked to inflammation more strongly among those with fewer psychological resources across both racial groups. Psychological resources may be important moderators of inflammation in the context of early life SES disadvantage. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000866DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7437114PMC
June 2020

A Cultural Perspective on Functional Limitations and Well-Being.

Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2020 09 15;46(9):1378-1391. Epub 2020 Feb 15.

University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

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 predominantly on individual attributes, the link between functional limitations and well-being may be weaker. Using cross-sectional probability samples from the United States and Japan (Study 1), functional limitations were associated with lower well-being in both cultures, though the association was weaker in Japan than in the United States and personal control played a mediating role. Furthermore, analyses of longitudinal data (Study 2) showed the cross-cultural patterns generally consistent with the cross-sectional analyses of Study 1, though the cultural moderation was found for fewer well-being measures. Such findings enrich our understanding of how health status and well-being are related across cultures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167220905712DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7416449PMC
September 2020

Longitudinal Profiles of Psychological Well-Being and Health: Findings From Japan.

Front Psychol 2019 10;10:2746. Epub 2019 Dec 10.

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, United States.

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 predict prospective health among Japanese adults. Data came from 654 people who completed two waves of the Midlife in Japan (MIDJA) Study collected 4-5 years apart. Health outcomes were assessed with subjective health, chronic conditions, physical symptoms, and functional health. The results showed that persistently high well-being predicted better health over time. High-arousal positive affect, which is relatively less valued in Japanese culture, was also associated with better health. The findings add cross-cultural evidence to the cross-time link between well-being and health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02746DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6914807PMC
December 2019

Pathways linking combinations of early-life adversities to adult mortality: Tales that vary by gender.

Soc Sci Med 2019 11 24;240:112566. Epub 2019 Sep 24.

Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.

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-life mortality and the life-course mediators that explain the associations.

Method: Data come from the first two waves of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study and mortality records over a 20-year period (1995/96-2015). We used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify patterns of ELAs across the three domains and incorporated four life-course mediators: material, psychological, social resources, healthy lifestyle and substance abuse.

Results: LCA yielded six distinct combinations of ELAs, with patterns of socioeconomic status (SES) and abuse being most salient. We found that childhood abuse exists across all levels of childhood SES. For both genders, individuals who experienced low SES combined with frequent abuse have the highest risk of death. For women but not men, frequent abuse increases the risk of mortality even if they grew up in middle or high SES families. For both genders, material resource is a significant contributor on the pathway from ELAs to mortality. Life-course mediators partially accounted for the observed associations between ELAs and mortality, but attenuation was stronger for men than women. This is partially attributed to the stronger direct effects of life-course resources on mortality for men than women.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that ELAs are an important determinant of mortality in midlife and old age. Traumatic experiences during the critical period of early life may compromise later-life heath more for women than men.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112566DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6894498PMC
November 2019

Scientific imperatives vis-à-vis growing inequality in America.

Am Psychol 2019 10 20;74(7):764-777. Epub 2019 Jun 20.

Department of Psychology.

A landmark article published in the (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 in the United States [MIDUS]). The Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 and its lingering effects are then reviewed to underscore widening inequality in access to education, employment, and income. Two MIDUS national samples of same-aged adults recruited 2 decades apart are then compared to assess historical changes in socioeconomic, physical health, and well-being profiles from the 1990s to postrecession. Despite historical gains in educational attainment over time, we show that indicators of socioeconomic status, health, and well-being are more compromised in the postrecession sample relative to the 1990s sample. Building on these preliminary findings, we elaborate opportunities for further inquiry by the scientific community to examine whether widening socioeconomic inequalities exacerbated by the Great Recession translate to widening health inequalities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000481DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6776687PMC
October 2019

Individual Differences in the Association Between Subjective Stress and Heart Rate Are Related to Psychological and Physical Well-Being.

Psychol Sci 2019 07 12;30(7):1016-1029. Epub 2019 Jun 12.

1 Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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 physiological and self-report measures of stress were recorded. Individual differences in the association between heart rate and self-reported stress were analyzed in relation to measures that reflect psychological well-being (self-report measures of well-being, anxiety, depression), denial coping, and physical well-being (proinflammatory biomarkers interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein). The within-participants association between heart rate and self-reported stress was significantly related to higher psychological well-being, fewer depressive symptoms, lower trait anxiety, less use of denial coping, and lower levels of proinflammatory biomarkers. Our results highlight the importance of studying individual differences in coherence between physiological measures and subjective mental states in relation to well-being.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797619849555DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6657151PMC
July 2019

Entrepreneurship and Eudaimonic Well-Being: Five Venues for New Science.

Authors:
Carol D Ryff

J Bus Ventur 2019 Jul 1;34(4):646-663. Epub 2018 Oct 1.

Department of Psychology/Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706.

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 essay is to examine the relevance of eudaimonic well-being for understanding entrepreneurial experience. The theoretical background and key dimensions of eudaimonic well-being are described and their relevance for entrepreneurial studies is considered. Illustrative findings from prior well-being studies are examined, also with emphasis on possible extensions to entrepreneurship. Five key venues for the entrepreneurial field are then considered: (1) entrepreneurship and autonomy, viewed both as a motive (self-determination theory) and as an aspect of well-being (eudaimonic well-being theory); (2) varieties of entrepreneurship (opportunity versus necessity) and eudaimonic well-being; (3) eudaimonia in the entrepreneurial journey (beginning, middle, end); (4) entrepreneurship, well-being and health; and (5) entrepreneurs and the eudaimonia of others - contrasting virtuous and vicious types. In each topic, extant findings from entrepreneurial studies are considered and new research directions proposed. The overall aim is to be generative regarding the interplay between entrepreneurial experience and eudaimonic wellbeing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2018.09.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6516495PMC
July 2019

Disparities in insulin resistance between black and white adults in the United States: The role of lifespan stress exposure.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2019 09 29;107:1-8. Epub 2019 Apr 29.

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, United States.

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 the racial disparity in insulin resistance. Inflammatory and hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis mechanisms implicated in associations between lifespan stress exposure and insulin resistance were also considered.

Methods: Data were derived from the biomarker component of the Midlife in the United States Study (N = 1170, 20% Black, 56% female, Mean age = 54.7 years, SD = 11.6). A homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was calculated from fasting glucose and insulin concentrations. Twelve risk factors relating to household dysfunction, socioeconomic disadvantage, and maltreatment were sum scored to index childhood adversity. Measures of adult stress included socioeconomic adversity, major stressful events, everyday discrimination, and lifetime discrimination.

Results: Levels of insulin resistance were higher among Black than White adults. Childhood adversity was positively associated with HOMA-IR, and attenuated 18% of the race difference. Measures of adult stress mediated 33% of the association between childhood adversity and HOMA-IR, and accounted for an additional 47% of the race difference. Higher inflammation and lower nocturnal cortisol both played an important role in mediating the association between stress exposure and HOMA-IR.

Conclusions: Findings are consistent with prior research showing that childhood adversity and adult stress are salient predictors of glucose metabolism, and extend this work by showing that lifespan stress exposures attenuate a significant portion of the Black-White disparity in HOMA-IR. Results also suggest stress effects on insulin resistance through inflammatory and HPA-axis pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.04.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6635018PMC
September 2019

Gender differences in the pathways from childhood disadvantage to metabolic syndrome in adulthood: An examination of health lifestyles.

SSM Popul Health 2018 Apr 6;4:216-224. Epub 2018 Feb 6.

Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.

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 (MetS). Thus, we examined gender differences in the intervening role of these behaviors in linking early-life SES and MetS in adulthood. We used survey data (n = 1054) from two waves of the Midlife in the U.S. Study (MIDUS 1 and 2) and biomarker data collected at MIDUS 2. Results show that individuals who were disadvantaged in early life are more likely to participate in physical activity related to work or chores, but less likely to participate in leisure-time physical activity, the domain most consistently linked with health benefits. Women from low SES families were exceedingly less likely to complete recommended amounts of physical activity through leisure. Men from low SES consumed more servings of unhealthy foods and fewer servings of healthy foods. The observed associations between childhood SES and health lifestyles in adulthood persist even after controlling for adult SES. For men, lack of leisure-time physical activity and unhealthy food consumption largely explained the association between early-life disadvantage and MetS. For women, leisure-time physical activity partially accounted for the association, with the direct effect of childhood SES remaining significant. Evidence that material deprivation in early life compromises metabolic health in adulthood calls for policy attention to improve economic conditions for disadvantaged families with young children where behavioral pathways (including gender differences therein) may be shaped. The findings also underscore the need to develop gender-specific interventions in adulthood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2018.01.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976858PMC
April 2018

Culture and social hierarchy: Self- and other-oriented correlates of socioeconomic status across cultures.

J Pers Soc Psychol 2018 Sep 17;115(3):427-445. Epub 2018 May 17.

Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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 where self-orientation is strongly sanctioned. In the present work, we predicted and found that especially in East Asian countries, where other-orientation is strongly sanctioned, high SES is associated with stronger other-orientation as well as with self-orientation. We first examined both psychological attributes (Study 1, N = 2,832) and socialization values (Study 2a, N = 4,675) in Japan and the United States. In line with the existent evidence, SES was associated with greater self-oriented psychological attributes and socialization values in both the U.S. and Japan. Importantly, however, higher SES was associated with greater other orientation in Japan, whereas this association was weaker or even reversed in the United States. Study 2b (N = 85,296) indicated that the positive association between SES and self-orientation is found, overall, across 60 nations. Further, Study 2b showed that the positive association between SES and other-orientation in Japan can be generalized to other Confucian cultures, whereas the negative association between SES and other-orientation in the U.S. can be generalized to other Frontier cultures. Implications of the current findings for modernization and globalization are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000133DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6095715PMC
September 2018

Longitudinal health consequences of socioeconomic disadvantage: Examining perceived discrimination as a mediator.

Health Psychol 2018 05;37(5):491-500

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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 examined the mediating role of discrimination in the longitudinal association between SED and self-rated health.

Method: Participants in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study were followed over 3 waves covering a 17- to 19-year period (N = 6,286; 53% female; 91% White; mean age at baseline = 47 years, SD = 13). SED was assessed from education, occupational prestige, income, and assets; self-rated health was measured at baseline and follow-up assessments. Two measures of discrimination-perceived inequality in work and everyday discrimination-were considered as mediators.

Results: Both measures of discrimination emerged as important explanatory variables in the link between SED and health. SED at the baseline assessment was associated with changes in self-rated health over the 17- to 19-year period (B = -.15, p < .001). Measures of discrimination partially mediated this longitudinal association, explaining 22% of the total effect. Exposure to discrimination and its health consequences were also more pronounced at younger ages.

Conclusion: Additional research is needed to replicate the findings of this study using objective health measures and to examine possible interventions. Challenging the ideologies and practices that underlie social class-related discrimination, or mitigating its harmful consequences, will both be important approaches to consider. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000616DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5926810PMC
May 2018

Neural, Hormonal, and Cognitive Correlates of Metabolic Dysfunction and Emotional Reactivity.

Psychosom Med 2018 06;80(5):452-459

From the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (Wolf, Willette), Iowa State University, Ames; Institute on Aging (Tsenkova, Ryff, Davidson), and Department of Psychology (Ryff, Davidson), University of Wisconsin-Madison; Center for Healthy Minds (Davidson), and Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior (Davidson), University of Wisconsin-Madison; Departments of Psychology (Willette) and Biomedical Sciences (Willette), Iowa State University, Ames; and Department of Neurology (Willette), University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Objective: Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (i.e., hyperglycemia) are characterized by insulin resistance. These problems with energy metabolism may exacerbate emotional reactivity to negatively valenced stimuli and related phenomena such as predisposition toward negative affect, as well as cognitive deficits. Higher emotional reactivity is seen with hyperglycemia and insulin resistance. However, it is largely unknown how metabolic dysfunction correlates with related neural, hormonal, and cognitive outcomes.

Methods: Among 331 adults from the Midlife in the United States study, eye-blink response (EBR) we cross sectionally examined to gauge reactivity to negative, positive, or neutrally valenced pictures from international affect picture system stimuli proximal to an acoustic startle probe. Increased EBR to negative stimuli was considered an index of stress reactivity. Frontal alpha asymmetry, a biomarker of negative affect predisposition, was determined using resting electroencephalography. Baseline urinary cortisol output was collected. Cognitive performance was gauged using the Brief Test of Adult Cognition by telephone. Fasting glucose and insulin characterized hyperglycemia or the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance.

Results: Higher homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance corresponded to an increased startle response, measured by EBR magnitude, for negative versus positive stimuli (R = 0.218, F(1,457) = 5.48, p = .020, euglycemia: M(SD) = .092(.776), hyperglycemia: M(SD) = .120(.881)). Participants with hyperglycemia versus euglycemia showed greater right frontal alpha asymmetry (F(1,307) = 6.62, p = .011, euglycemia: M(SD) = .018(.167), hyperglycemia: M(SD) = -.029(.160)), and worse Brief Test of Adult Cognition by telephone arithmetic performance (F(1,284) = 4.25, p = .040, euglycemia: M(SD) = 2.390(1.526), hyperglycemia: M(SD) = 1.920(1.462)). Baseline urinary cortisol (log10 μg/12 hours) was also dysregulated in individuals with hyperglycemia (F(1,324) = 5.09, p = .025, euglycemia: M(SD) = 1.052 ± .332, hyperglycemia: M(SD) = .961 (.362)).

Conclusions: These results suggest that dysmetabolism is associated with increased emotional reactivity, predisposition toward negative affect, and specific cognitive deficits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000582DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976543PMC
June 2018

Well-Being With Soul: Science in Pursuit of Human Potential.

Authors:
Carol D Ryff

Perspect Psychol Sci 2018 03;13(2):242-248

Department of Psychology and Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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 been so much interest in this eudaimonic approach to well-being. A final section looks to the future, proposing new directions to illuminate the forces that work against the realization of human potential as well as those that nurture human flourishing and self-realization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1745691617699836DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877803PMC
March 2018

Physical Function in U.S. Older Adults Compared With Other Populations: A Multinational Study.

J Aging Health 2019 08 22;31(7):1067-1084. Epub 2018 Feb 22.

1 Georgetown University, Santa Rosa, CA, USA.

We compare physical performance from three U.S. national surveys and nationally representative surveys in England, Taiwan, and Costa Rica. 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 for significant differences across surveys controlling for age and height. Age profiles of performance vary across U.S. surveys, but levels of lung function (peak expiratory flow) and handgrip strength in the United States are as high as they are in the other three countries. Americans also perform as well on the chair stand test as the English and Costa Ricans, if not better, but exhibit slower gait speed than the English at most ages. With the exception of walking speed, we find little evidence that older Americans have worse physical performance than their peers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0898264318759378DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6070428PMC
August 2019

Behavioral Adjustment Moderates the Link Between Neuroticism and Biological Health Risk: A U.S.-Japan Comparison Study.

Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2018 06 30;44(6):809-822. Epub 2018 Jan 30.

3 University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

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 behavioral adjustment, a propensity to flexibly adjust behaviors to environmental contingencies. Using a U.S.-Japan cross-cultural survey, we found that neuroticism was linked to lower biological health risk for those who are high, but not low, in behavioral adjustment. Importantly, Japanese were higher in behavioral adjustment than European Americans, and as predicted by this cultural difference, neuroticism was linked to lower biological health risk for Japanese but not for European Americans. Finally, consistent with prior evidence, neuroticism was associated with worse self-reported health regardless of behavioral adjustment or culture. Discussion focused on the significance of identifying sociocultural correlates of biological health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167217748603DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5940540PMC
June 2018

Social Disadvantage, Severe Child Abuse, and Biological Profiles in Adulthood.

J Health Soc Behav 2017 09 17;58(3):371-386. Epub 2017 Jan 17.

1 University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

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 subsample of Midlife in the United States (2004-2006). We used latent class analysis to identify distinct profiles of childhood abuse, each reflecting a combination of type and severity. Results indicate that disadvantaged groups, women, and those from disadvantaged families are at greater risk of experiencing more severe and multiple types of abuse. Those with more severe and multifaceted childhood abuse show greater physiological dysregulation. Childhood abuse experiences partially accounted for the social status differences in physiological profiles. Our findings underscore that differential exposure to serious childhood stressors plays a significant role in gender and class inequalities in adult health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022146516685370DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783196PMC
September 2017

Can we determine whether physical limitations are more prevalent in the US than in countries with comparable life expectancy?

SSM Popul Health 2017 Dec 23;3:808-813. Epub 2017 Dec 23.

Center for Population and Health, Georgetown University, 312 Healy Hall, 37th & O Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20057-1197, USA.

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, Taiwan, and Costa Rica. Based on cross-sectional data from seven population-based surveys, we use local mean smoothing to plot self-reported limitations by age for each of four physical tasks for each survey, stratified by sex. We find substantial variation in the estimates in the US across four nationally-representative surveys. For example, one US survey suggests that American women experience a walking limitation 15 years earlier than their Costa Rican counterparts, while another US survey implies that Americans have a 4-year advantage. Differences in mode of survey may account for higher prevalence of limitations in the one survey that used a self-administered mail-in questionnaire than in the other surveys that used in-person or telephone interviews. Yet, even among US surveys that used the same mode, there is still so much variability in estimates that we cannot conclude whether Americans have better or worse function than their counterparts in the other countries. Seemingly minor differences in question wording and response categories may account for the remaining inconsistency. If minor differences in question wording can result in such extensive variation in the estimates within a given population, then lack of comparability is likely to be an even greater problem when examining results across countries that do not share the same language or culture. Despite the potential utility of self-reported physical function within a survey sample, our findings imply that absolute estimates of population-level prevalence of self-reported physical limitations are unlikely to be strictly comparable across countries-or even across surveys within the same population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2017.07.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769036PMC
December 2017

Persistently high psychological well-being predicts better HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels: findings from the midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS) longitudinal study.

Lipids Health Dis 2018 Jan 3;17(1). Epub 2018 Jan 3.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute on Aging, 2245 Medical Science Center, Madison, WI, 53703, USA.

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.

Methods: This paper examined whether longitudinal profiles of psychological well-being over 9-10 years are predictors of blood lipid profiles. Using the MIDUS (Midlife in the U.S.) biological subsample (n = 1054, aged 34 to 84, 55% female), cross-time trajectories of well-being were linked with three lipid outcomes (i.e., HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol), measured for the first time at the 2nd wave of the study.

Results: Most adults showed largely stable profiles of well-being, albeit at different levels. Some showed persistently high well-being over time, while others revealed persistently low or moderate well-being. After adjusting for the effect of demographics, health behaviors, medications, and insulin resistance, adults with persistently high levels of environmental mastery and self-acceptance-two components of psychological well-being-had significantly higher levels of HDL as well as significantly lower levels of triglycerides compared to adults with persistently low levels of well-being. Converging with prior findings, no association was found between well-being and LDL cholesterol.

Conclusions: Over 9-10 years, persistently high levels of psychological well-being measures predicted high HDL cholesterol and low triglycerides. These findings add longitudinal evidence to the growing body of research showing that positive psychological factors are linked with better lipoprotein profiles. A better blood lipid profile, particularly higher HDL-C, may be key in mediating how psychological well-being positively impacts health and length of life. Additional research is required to further validate this hypothesis as well as to establish potential underlying mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12944-017-0646-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5751819PMC
January 2018

Eudaimonic well-being, inequality, and health: Recent findings and future directions.

Authors:
Carol D Ryff

Int Rev Econ 2017 Jun 30;64(2):159-178. Epub 2017 Mar 30.

Institute on Aging/Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1300 University Ave., 2245 MSC, Madison, WI 53706,.

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 purposefully engaged, health benefits (reduced morbidity, extended longevity) have been documented. Eudaimonic well-being also appears to offer a protective buffer against increased health risk among the educationally disadvantaged. Neural and genetic mechanisms that may underlie eudaimonic influences on health are briefly noted, and interventions designed to promote eudaimonic well-being are sketched. Needed future research directions include addressing problems of unjust societies wherein greed among privileged elites may be a force compromising the eudaimonic well-being of those less privileged. Alternatively, and more positive in focus, is the need to better understand the role of the arts, broadly defined, in promoting eudaimonic well-being across all segments of society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12232-017-0277-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5645055PMC
June 2017

Linking Positive Affect to Blood Lipids: A Cultural Perspective.

Psychol Sci 2017 Oct 17;28(10):1468-1477. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

1 Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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 profiles, known to be strongly predictive of risk for cardiovascular disease, and tested whether their associations depend on cultural contexts. As predicted, positive affect was associated with healthier lipid profiles for Americans but not for Japanese. Further analyses showed that this cultural moderation was mediated by body mass index. This study highlights the role of culture in the link between positive emotions and key biological risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797617713309DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5633496PMC
October 2017