How Old is Old? Interview with:
“Im Spiegel / In the mirror” by njs-photographie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0William Chopik PhD
Department of Psychology
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI What is the background for this study?

Response: The motivation for the study was that we saw a lot of differences in the way people defined “old age”. We also noticed that there is a stigma that goes along with being old. So we had a natural curiosity to see how these perceptions my change as people age.

As people aged, the tended to report feeling younger and consider an older adult as “always in the future”–never quite where they are now.

We found that our results confirmed a lot of existing theories about how our attitudes toward aging change as we age ourselves. What are the main findings?

Response: I think the main take-away is that our attitudes about older adults are shaped by the life stage we are at right now. I will also say that it looks like these effects are driven by people’s bleak perceptions about what older adulthood is like. However, there’s also research showing that older adulthood can be quite enriching, with some studies showing that older adults are even happier than younger adults! What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: Major future directions include examining ways that we can minimize ageism and age bias, which we think are primary drivers of what happened in this study. There are a few interventions for reducing ageist attitudes, but there haven’t been many systematic investigations done. We hope to start that soon.

We hope that readers take away that their attitudes are often constructed based on their current standing in life. However, we also hope that they can critically examine where these attitudes come from and try to challenge them. Because they way we view aging has implications for not only other older adults, but ourselves as well.


Front Psychol. 2018 Feb 1;9:67. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00067. eCollection 2018.

Age Differences in Age Perceptions and Developmental Transitions.

Chopik WJ1, Bremner RH2, Johnson DJ1, Giasson HL3.



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