Is Trusting Others Related to Better Health? An Investigation of Older Adults Across Six Non-Western Countries
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Generalized trust reflects whether individuals extend their trust to others in general and is important to health and well-being. This study examined the predictive effect of generalized trust on health, happiness, life satisfaction, health behaviors, and illnesses among older adults residing in six non-Western countries. We utilized a recent multinational dataset collected by the World Health Organization that included measures of generalized trust, health, happiness, life satisfaction, health behaviors (physical activity, diet), health-compromising behaviors (sedentary behavior, cigarette, and alcohol consumption), and illnesses (e.g., angina, arthritis, asthma, cataracts, depression, hypertension, and lung disease) among adults aged 50 and older. The sample comprised a total of 35,329 adults (M age = 63.54) from China, Ghana, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Russia. An index of the development of these countries was also entered into the analyses. Hierarchical multiple regression showed that generalized trust was a significant and positive predictor of self-rated health, happiness, life satisfaction, and quality of life, and a negative predictor of illness (i.e., angina, arthritis, asthma, cataracts, diabetes, depression, hypertension, and stroke) and sedentary behavior. The associations were stronger for countries with a higher Human Development Index (HDI) than those with a low HDI. While the findings from this first multinational investigation of non-Western developing countries are consistent with the results of previous studies in Western developed countries, they also underscore their cross-societal variability.
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