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Publication Date

Summer 2015

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Mildred Alvarez


Ethnic Identity, Life Satisfaction, Older Adults, Orientations to Happiness, Well-being

Subject Areas

Psychology; Gerontology


Using an older adult sample, this study examined the relationships among three orientations to happiness (OTH), ethnic identity (EI), and life satisfaction (LS). The three components of OTH are the life of meaning, the engaged life, and the life of pleasure. The following two hypotheses were tested using a sample of 101 adults (60+ years old) from the greater San José area: significant and positive relationships exist among each OTH component and EI, and significant and positive relationships exist among each OTH component and LS. Each hypothesis was supported. Using selected questionnaire responses, exploratory analyses examined the role of family, professional status, and gender on OTH, EI, and LS. Family analyses showed that neither marital status nor family communication patterns played a role in OTH, EI, nor LS. Moreover, professional status analyses revealed that neither educational level nor retirement goal influenced OTH, EI, nor LS. Interesting gender differences were uncovered. Women had significantly higher levels of OTH, EI, and LS than men. Women also spent more days per week than men communicating with grandchildren, and more time per day than men watching TV/movies and performing light exercises and household chores. Gender analyses also revealed an interaction between age and gender for EI, whereby older women had significantly higher EI scores than older men and younger women. Implications of the study are that older women spend more time in social activities and have higher levels of well-being than older men.