Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research: How you think about your age may affect how you age

Date:
March 4, 2010
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
The saying "You're only as old as you feel" really seems to resonate with older adults, according to new research.

The saying "You're only as old as you feel" really seems to resonate with older adults, according to research from Purdue University.

Related Articles


"How old you are matters, but beyond that it's your interpretation that has far-reaching implications for the process of aging," said Markus H. Schafer, a doctoral student in sociology and gerontology who led the study. "So, if you feel old beyond your own chronological years you are probably going to experience a lot of the downsides that we associate with aging.

"But if you are older and maintain a sense of being younger, then that gives you an edge in maintaining a lot of the abilities you prize."

Schafer and co-author Tetyana P. Shippee, a Purdue graduate who is a research associate at Purdue's Center on Aging and the Life Course, compared people's chronological age and their subjective age to determine which one has a greater influence on cognitive abilities during older adulthood. Nearly 500 people ages 55-74 were surveyed about aging in 1995 and 2005 as part of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States.

In 1995, when people were asked what age do you feel most of the time, the majority identified with being 12 years younger than they actually were.

"We found that these people who felt young for their age were more likely to have greater confidence about their cognitive abilities a decade later," Schafer said. "Yes, chronological age was important, but the subjective age had a stronger effect.

"What we are not sure about is what comes first. Does a person's wellness and happiness affect their cognitive abilities or does a person's cognitive ability contribute to their sense of wellness. We are planning to address this in a future study."

Schafer also said that the current study's findings have both positive and negative implications.

"There is a tremendous emphasis on being youthful in our society and that can have a negative effect for people," Schafer said. "People want to feel younger, and so when they do inevitably age they can lose a lot of confidence in their cognitive abilities.

"But on the other hand, because there is such a desire in America to stay young, there may be benefits of trying to maintain a sense of youthfulness by keeping up with new trends and activities that feel invigorating. Learning new technologies is one way people can continue to improve their cognitive abilities. It will be interesting to see how, or if, these cultural norms shift as the Baby Boomer generation ages."

Other studies have shown that women are prone to aging stereotypes, so Schafer expected to see that women who felt older about themselves would have less confidence in their cognitive abilities.

"There is a slight difference between men and women, but it's not as pronounced as we expected," Schafer said. "This was surprising because of the emphasis on physical attractiveness and youth that is often disproportionately placed on women."

Schafer also is studying how stressful events, such as family members' health issues, affect aging, as well as how happiness and aging relate.

These finding were published in January's Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, and the study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. The original article was written by Amy Patterson Neubert. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Markus H. Schafer and Tetyana P. Shippee. Age Identity, Gender, and Perceptions of Decline: Does Feeling Older Lead to Pessimistic Dispositions About Cognitive Aging? The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 2010; 65b (1): 91 DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbp046

Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Research: How you think about your age may affect how you age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302123144.htm>.
Purdue University. (2010, March 4). Research: How you think about your age may affect how you age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302123144.htm
Purdue University. "Research: How you think about your age may affect how you age." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302123144.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins