This study explored the idea of “flourishing under fire” to determine whether a ratio of positive to negative affect could predict high levels of well-being for older adults with multiple chronic health conditions. Using a sample of elders either living in the community (n = 762) or a nursing home (n = 53), we calculated ratios of positive to negative affect and measured well-being with several indicators. The 2.9 positivity ratio differentiated high levels of well-being in both samples. The ability to regulate positive affect to maintain a higher ratio of positive over negative affect appears to be important to successful late life adjustment.

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National Institute of Mental Health Grant (MH33063)


Meeks, S., VanHaitsma, K., Kostiwa, I., & Murrell, S. A. (2012.). Positivity and well-being among community-residing elders and nursing home residents: What is the optimal affect balance? The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67(4), 460-467. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbr135

Team Members as Authors

Members of the the PELI Team who contributed to this publication.

Kimberly VanHaitsma, Ph.D., FGSA

Avatar for Dennis Cheatham

Dennis Cheatham

Communication Director

Professor, Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing
Director, Program for Person-Centered Living Systems of Care

Kimberly VanHaitsma, Ph.D., FGSA