By Tara Queen and Jacqui Smith
Overview: Life Span and Life Course Perspectives on Aging
Personality and Self-Related Processes
Emotion and Well-being
Successful Aging and Longevity
- Age identity
- How old or young people feel compared to their chronological age; after early adulthood, most people feel younger than their chronological age.
- Autobiographical narratives
- A qualitative research method used to understand characteristics and life themes that an individual considers to uniquely distinguish him- or herself from others.
- Average life expectancy
- Mean number of years that 50% of people in a specific birth cohort are expected to survive. This is typically calculated from birth but is also sometimes re-calculated for people who have already reached a particular age (e.g., 65).
- Group of people typically born in the same year or historical period, who share common experiences over time; sometimes called a generation (e.g., Baby Boom Generation).
- Convoy Model of Social Relations
- Theory that proposes that the frequency, types, and reciprocity of social exchanges change with age. These social exchanges impact the health and well-being of the givers and receivers in the convoy.
- Cross-sectional studies
- Research method that provides information about age group differences; age differences are confounded with cohort differences and effects related to history and time of study.
- Crystallized intelligence
- Type of intellectual ability that relies on the application of knowledge, experience, and learned information.
- Fluid intelligence
- Type of intelligence that relies on the ability to use information processing resources to reason logically and solve novel problems.
- Global subjective well-being
- Individuals’ perceptions of and satisfaction with their lives as a whole.
- Hedonic well-being
- Component of well-being that refers to emotional experiences, often including measures of positive (e.g., happiness, contentment) and negative affect (e.g., stress, sadness).
- Inter-individual and subgroup differences in level and rate of change over time.
- Inhibitory functioning
- Ability to focus on a subset of information while suppressing attention to less relevant information.
- Intra- and inter-individual differences
- Different patterns of development observed within an individual (intra-) or between individuals (inter-).
- Life course theories
- Theory of development that highlights the effects of social expectations of age-related life events and social roles; additionally considers the lifelong cumulative effects of membership in specific cohorts and sociocultural subgroups and exposure to historical events.
- Life span theories
- Theory of development that emphasizes the patterning of lifelong within- and between-person differences in the shape, level, and rate of change trajectories.
- Longitudinal studies
- Research method that collects information from individuals at multiple time points over time, allowing researchers to track cohort differences in age-related change to determine cumulative effects of different life experiences.
- Processing speed
- The time it takes individuals to perform cognitive operations (e.g., process information, react to a signal, switch attention from one task to another, find a specific target object in a complex picture).
- Psychometric approach
- Approach to studying intelligence that examines performance on tests of intellectual functioning.
- Type of memory task where individuals are asked to remember previously learned information without the help of external cues.
- Type of memory task where individuals are asked to remember previously learned information with the assistance of cues.
- Self-perceptions of aging
- An individual’s perceptions of their own aging process; positive perceptions of aging have been shown to be associated with greater longevity and health.
- Social network
- Network of people with whom an individual is closely connected; social networks provide emotional, informational, and material support and offer opportunities for social engagement.
- Socioemotional Selectivity Theory
- Theory proposed to explain the reduction of social partners in older adulthood; posits that older adults focus on meeting emotional over information-gathering goals, and adaptively select social partners who meet this need.
- Subjective age
- A multidimensional construct that indicates how old (or young) a person feels and into which age group a person categorizes him- or herself
- Successful aging
- Includes three components: avoiding disease, maintaining high levels of cognitive and physical functioning, and having an actively engaged lifestyle.
- Working memory
- Memory system that allows for information to be simultaneously stored and utilized or manipulated.