Psychology and Aging, 2014, Vol.29(3), pp.503-520
This study examined how children (9 years), adolescents (13 to 15 years), younger adults (21 to 26 years), and older adults (70 to 76 years) chart age gradients of cognitive and social functioning from childhood to old age. Participants ( N = 156) rated typical performance levels in different life phases for 10 aspects of cognitive and social functioning. Compared with older participants, children expected lower performance levels and higher temporal stability, particularly during adulthood and into old age, and showed lower interindividual consensus in their ratings. Individuals in all 4 age groups recognized that fluid cognitive abilities reach their developmental peak earlier in life and decline more steeply thereafter than crystallized cognitive abilities. Older adults and, to a lesser extent, children evaluated their own current functioning as being better than that of their typical age peers. Furthermore, older adults charted typical cognitive development in middle and earlier late adulthood more positively than the participants in the other 3 age groups, which possibly reflects a partial externalization of their own positive self-views and a self-enhancing bias. Comparisons with life span gradients of cognitive performance ( McArdle, Ferrer-Caja, Hamagami, & Woodcock, 2002 ) suggest that the ratings of adolescents and younger adults were in better agreement with empirically observed average performance trajectories than the ratings of children and older adults. We conclude that beliefs about normative cognitive and social aspects of life span development emerge in late middle childhood, solidify into culturally shared scripts by mid-adolescence, and remain subject to further change into old age.
Beliefs About Aging ; Cognitive Development ; Social Development ; Biexponential Latent Growth Curve Modeling ; Age Differences
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