The Study of the Social Bases of Intellectual Functioning Across the Life Course: Issues, Findings, and Directions for Further Research on Abstraction

  • Jason S. Lee
Part of the Recent Research in Psychology book series (PSYCHOLOGY)


The study of the social bases of intellectual functioning across the life course faces three broad challenges: (a) the conceptualization and measurement of intellectual functioning, (b) the identification of genuinely causal relationships, and (c) the valid generalization of findings to a population of interest. This final chapter evaluates this study’s response to each of these challenges, exposing the strengths and limitations of the theoretical orientations and methodological approaches that have guided this work. A summary of conclusions follows that and then the book concludes with a discussion of future directions in research on abstraction.


Intellectual Functioning High Order Thinking Social Basis Confirmatory Factor Analysis Result Survey Researcher 
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  1. 2.
    Recall from chapter 2 that intellectual differences between same-aged respondents from different birth cohorts are found in repeated cross-sectional studies. As Baltes et al., (1984, p. 40) observe, these differences in level of measured intellectual functioning are not likely to be due to “biological or genetic differences between generations” so close together in time; instead, they are attributed to “differing environmental conditions.”Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    One may well ask whether cognitive decline determines the timing of retirement rather than results from it. In a review of seven longitudinal studies on the predictors of retirement, Palmore, George, & Fillenbaum (1982, p. 733) conclude that structural factors (socioeconomic status and job characteristics) are more important in accounting for the amount of employment, whereas both structural factors and subjective factors (self-reported health and attitudes) account for early retirement (before the age of 65 years).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Likewise, the positive connotation of the concept of social support is contradicted when indicators of it are shown to be associated with negative outcomes (as, for example, in research on “the costs of caring” [Kessler & McLeod, 1984]).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason S. Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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