Does the self-reported playfulness of older adults influence their wellbeing? An exploratory study

Callum Parker, Ann Kennedy-Behr, Shelley Wright, Ted Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Older adults represent a growing demographic in Australia who are at an increased risk of isolation, loneliness, and experiencing poorer overall health. Thus, the need for understanding factors that influence older adults’ wellbeing is important. Emergent research into adult playfulness has shown positive associations with indicators of wellbeing, but limited research has been conducted in older adults (60+). This study investigated whether types of playfulness present in Australian older adults (60+) were predictive of their wellbeing. Method: An online survey was administered (n = 123) using the Other-directed, Light-hearted, Intellectual, Whimsical (OLIW) Playfulness Scale and the PERMA-Profiler wellbeing measure to explore playfulness types and its influence on self-reported wellbeing. Multiple linear regression analysis with bootstrapping was completed to determine if any significant relationships between OLIW and PERMA-Profiler subscales existed. Results: Playfulness was a significant predictor of wellbeing. The OLIW Other-directed subscale (enjoyment of others, using playfulness in tense situations) was the greatest predictor of PERMA-Profiler subscales with OLIW Intellectual and Whimsical subscales making smaller contributions. Conclusion/implications: Playfulness was shown to be a significant contributor to wellbeing in older adults and should be used as a part of occupational therapy intervention, especially when considering social activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-97
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Human occupation
  • mental health
  • OLIW
  • PERMA-Profiler
  • play
  • playful
  • quality of life

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