Longitudinal Effects of Subjective Aging on Health and Longevity: An Updated Meta-Analysis

Gerben J. Westerhof*, Abigail M. Nehrkorn-Bailey, Han Yun Tseng, Allyson Brothers, Jelena Sophie Siebert, Susanne Wurm, Hans Werner Wahl, Manfred Diehl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


This article updates and extends an earlier meta-analysis (Westerhof et al., 2014) on the longitudinal effects of subjective aging (SA) on health outcomes. A systematic search in different databases (APA PsycInfo, PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus) resulted in 99 articles, reporting on 107 studies. Participants: Studies had a median sample size of 1,863 adults with a median age of 66 years. A randomized effect meta-analysis showed a significant, small effect (likelihood ratio = 1.347; 95% confidence interval [1.300, 1.396]; p <.001), similar in magnitude to the previous meta-analysis of 19 studies. Although the results showed high heterogeneity in the longitudinal link between SA and health outcomes, there were no differences in effects according to chronological age of participants, welfare state status (more or less developed social security system), length of follow-up, type of health-related outcome, or quality of the study. Effects were stronger for multiitem measures of self-perceptions of aging than for the frequently used single-item measures assessing subjective age, especially for indicators of physical health. Based on this meta-analysis, building on five times more studies than the 2014 review, we consider the associations of measures of SA with health and longevity across time as robust, albeit small in size. Future research should concentrate on the clarification of pathways mediating the relation between SA and health outcomes, as well as potential bidirectional effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-166
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2023


  • Health
  • Longevity
  • Meta-analysis
  • Self-perceptions of aging
  • Subjective age


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