PSY3228- PSYCHOLOGY OF AGING
CLASS 2- May 3 rd
Chapter 2: Models of Development: Nature and Nurture in Adulthood
Key concepts in the study of the lifespan
Life span perspective: emphasizes continuity of development from childhood
to old age
Contextual influences: Life span change is a function of nature and nurture
Developmental science: Need to look at multiple factors in development
1. Nature vs nurture
interaction between nature and nurture, organism (person) vs. Context
Concept of Niche-picking: aware of environment
Reciprocity principal: People influence and are influenced by the events in
2. Psychological models
Grand, over-arching theories of Psychology of Aging are…
• Rare: how the mind goes to adulthood and ages
• Often not supported by data
• Too vague/imprecise
• Too difficult to falsify
• Too broad
• Therefore, we will work piecemeal, domain-by-domain
Erikson’s psychological theory
• Each stage unfolds from the precious stage in predestined order, but
• People may experience a psychosocial issue at an age other that the
one shown where it crosses the diagonal. Terror management theory
• We fear death and so we distance ourselves from older adults (who
remind us of our mortality)
• Does this motivate all of our behavior, without our awareness?
• A more constant, quantitative influence?
• Does terror get weaker or stronger as we get older?
Qualitative changes over stages?
Steady changes and influences
• on us, personality, frontal lobe functions, constantly changing
3. Biological models
Programmed aging theories:
Propose that aging and death are built into the hard-wiring of all organisms
and therefore are part of the genetic code.
• Species live to different maximum ages (lifespan)
• “good genes gone bad” theory: evolution has selected for species that
are vigorous through the period of optimal sexual reproduction and
then are less important once that period is passed ex: APOE
• Replicative senescence: the loss of the ability of cells to reproduce
• The telomere theory of aging: According to the telomere theory,
each cell replication reduces the length of telomeres until the
chromosome’s tips are no longer protected. Q: Do we need to age
Plasticity: course of development may be altered depending on nature of
individual’s interactions with environment
Podcast: Do We really want to live forever young? – NAD molecule controls
the longevity of us but as we get older ex: 50 we produce half of what we
used to with this molecule.
Chapter 3: The Study of Adult Development and Aging: Research
1. Basics of research methods
Why bother with all this?
2 • Anecdotes and folk wisdom
• What happens to learning abilities in aging?
o You’re never too old to learn!
o You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!
•Control bias: how we
set up our statistical test
•Careful when we do our
•P-hack: p values when
doing a statistic test,
see where the significant
is, false positive
•Publication bias: results
that are boring not
novel, doesn't make
sense, doesn't prevail
the dominant hypothesis
1. Experimental: we manipulate a variable and measure its effect
on another variable – there’s correlations
• Most direct way to test a hypothesis About a cause-effect
relationship between variables.
• Experimenter controls one variable IV- independent
o Hypothesized to cause effect on another variable
• The other is observed and measured: dependent
o Usually behavior, hypothesize to be affected
• All other variables held constant: control
• Make sure there’s is only one thing different (your variable
of interest) between experimental and control groups
• Confound: another variable you didn’t notice or control
that provides an alternative explanation for your findings,
so something that might be working.
• If you’ve done a good job, can make inferences about
causality, something you might want to include can be
• Random assignment: randomly assign treatment
3 • Blinding: minimize expectancy by eliminating knowledge
about experimental conditions
o Single and double blind studies
o Double blind procedure: participants and staff are
ignorant about whether the participants are in the