Secular changes in late-life cognition and well-being: Towards a long bright future with a short brisk ending?

Denis Gerstorf, Gizem Hülür, Johanna Drewelies, Peter Eibich, Sandra Duezel, Ilja Demuth, Paolo Ghisletta, Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen, Gert G. Wagner, Ulman Lindenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

How sociocultural contexts shape individual functioning is of prime interest for psychological inquiry. Secular increases favoring later-born cohorts in fluid intelligence measures are widely documented for young adults. In the current study, we quantified such trends in old age using data from highly comparable participants living in a narrowly defined geographical area and examined whether these trends would generalize to quality-of-life indicators. To do so, we compared data obtained 20 years apart in the Berlin Aging Study (in 1990-1993) and the Berlin Aging Study II (in 2013-2014), applied a case-matched control design (per cohort, n = 161, Mage = 75), quantified sample selection using a nationally representative sample as the reference, and controlled for number of physical diseases. The later cohort performed better on the fluid intelligence measure (d = .85) and reported higher morale, less negative affect, and more positive affect (ds > .39) than the earlier cohort. We concluded that secular advances have resulted in better cognitive performance and perceived quality of life among older adults and discuss when and how advantages of later cohorts reach their limits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-310
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology and aging
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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