The Process of Successful Aging: Selection, Optimization, and Compensation

  • Margret M. Baltes
  • Laura L. Carstensen


Although much of the research done by social gerontologists focuses on the decline and loss associated with old age, many older people experience the last stage in life as a satisfying and productive time in life. Especially as the demographics of the world’s population change in future decades, it becomes increasingly important to understand the behavioral, cognitive, and motivational processes involved in optimal aging. This chapter—which draws heavily on an earlier article by Baltes and Carstensen (1996)— considers the historical, societal, and philosophical influences that have directed attention away from successful aging and offers the metamodel of selective optimization with compensation (SOC) (Baltes & Baltes, 1990) as a framework for studying adaptive aging. The process of selection—namely, narrowing the array of goals and domains to which resources are directed—is considered to be the cardinal principle of lifespan development and is discussed generally in terms of selective optimization with compensation and specifically within the realm of social behavior in terms of socioemotional selectivity theory (Carstensen, 1993,1998; Carstensen, Isaacowitz, & Charles, 1999).


Life Satisfaction Successful Aging Secondary Control Matthew Effect Future Time Perspective 
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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margret M. Baltes
    • 1
  • Laura L. Carstensen
    • 2
  1. 1.Free University BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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