Advertisement

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 776–780 | Cite as

People over forty feel 20% younger than their age: Subjective age across the lifespan

  • David C. RubinEmail author
  • Dorthe Berntsen
Brief Reports

Abstract

Subjective age—the age people think of themselves as being—is measured in a representative Danish sample of 1,470 adults between 20 and 97 years of age through personal, in-home interviews. On the average, adults younger than 25 have older subjective ages, and those older than 25 have younger subjective ages, favoring a lifespan-developmental view over an age-denial view of subjective age. When the discrepancy between subjective and chronological age is calculated as a proportion of chronological age, no increase is seen after age 40; older respondents feel 20% younger than their actual age. Demographic variables (gender, income, and education) account for very little variance in subjective age.

Keywords

Autobiographical Memory Proportional Discrepancy Social Economic Status Life Script Omnibus Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Barak, B., Mathur, A., Lee, K., &Zhang, Y. (2001). Perceptions of age-identity: A cross-cultural inner-age exploration.Psychology & Marketing,18, 1003–1029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barak, B., &Rahtz, D. (1999). Perceived youth: Appraisal and characterization.International Journal of Aging & Human Development,49, 231–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barak, B., &Stern, B. (1986). Subjective age correlates: A research note.Gerontologist,26, 571–578.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnes-Farrell, J. L., &Piotrowski, M. J. (1989). Workers’ perceptions of discrepancies between chronological age and personal age: You’re only as old as you feel.Psychology & Aging,4, 376–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berntsen, D., &Rubin, D. C. (2004). Cultural life scripts structure recall from autobiographical memory.Memory & Cognition,32, 427–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Conway, M. A., &Pleydell-Pearce, C. W. (2000). The construction of autobiographical memories in the self-memory system.Psychological Review,107, 261–268.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cooper, P. E., Thomas, L. E., &Stevens, S. J. (1981). Subjective time experience in an intergenerational sample.International Journal of Aging & Human Development,13, 183–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Galambos, N. L., Kolaric, G. C., Sears, H. A., &Maggs, J. L. (1999). Adolescents’ subjective age: An indicator of perceived maturity.Journal of Research on Adolescence,9, 309–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goldsmith, R. E., &Heiens, R. A. (1992). Subjective age: A test of five hypotheses.Gerontologist,32, 312–317.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Henderson, K. V., Goldsmith, R. E., &Flynn, L. R. (1995). Demographic characteristics of subjective age.Journal of Social Psychology,135, 447–457.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kaliterna, L., Larsen, Z. P., &Brkljacic, T. (2002). Chronological and subjective age in relation to work demands: Survey of Croatian workers.Experimental Aging Research,28, 39–49.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kastenbaum, R., Derbin, V., Sabatini, P., &Artt, S. (1972). “The ages of me”: Toward personal and interpersonal definitions of functional aging.International Journal of Aging & Human Development,3, 197–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Knoll, N., Rieckmann, N., &Scholz, U. (2004). Predictors of subjective age before and after cataract surgery: Conscientiousness makes a difference.Psychology & Aging,19, 676–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Markides, K. S., &Boldt, J. S. (1983). Change in subjective age among the elderly: A longitudinal analysis.Gerontologist,23, 422–427.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Montepare, J. M. (1996). Variations in adults’ subjective ages in relation to birthday nearness, age, age awareness, and attitudes toward aging.Journal of Adult Development,3, 193–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Montepare, J. M., &Lachman, M. E. (1989). “You are only as old as you feel”: Self-perceptions of age, fears of aging, and life satisfaction from adolescence to old age.Psychology & Aging,4, 73–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Neugarten, B. L., Moore, J. W., &Lowe, J. C. (1965). Age norms, age constraints, and adult socialization.American Journal of Sociology,70, 710–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Öberg, P., &Tornstam, L. (2001). Youthfulness and fitness—identity ideals for all ages?Journal of Aging & Identity, 6, 15–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Peters, G. R. (1971). Self-conceptions of the aged, age-identification, and aging.Gerontologist,11, 69–73.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Rubin, D. C., &Berntsen, D. (2003). Life scripts help to maintain autobiographical memories of highly positive, but not highly negative, events.Memory & Cognition,31, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rubin, D. C., Rahhal, T. A., &Poon, L. W. (1998). Things learned in early adulthood are remembered best.Memory & Cognition,26, 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sehulster, J. R. (1996). In my era: Evidence for the perception of a special period of the past.Memory,4, 145–158.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Uotinen, V., Suutama, T., &Ruoppila, I. (2003). Age identification in the framework of successful aging: A study of older Finnish people.International Journal of Aging & Human Development,56, 173–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ward, R. A. (1977). The impact of subjective age and stigma in older persons.Journal of Gerontology,32, 227–232.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychological and Brain SciencesDuke UniversityDurham
  2. 2.University of AarhusAarhusDenmark

Personalised recommendations