Defining Age and Using Age-Relevant Constructs

Alexander R. Schwall

in The Oxford Handbook of Work and Aging

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195385052
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Defining Age and Using Age-Relevant Constructs

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Chronological age (time since birth) is the most frequently used operationalization of the effects of aging. However, researchers in various disciplines have expressed dissatisfaction with the chronological age’s inherent atheoretical nature. Chronological age is essentially a measurement of time, not a reflection of age-related changes and development. This chapter will identify what conceptual weaknesses of chronological age can limit the value of empirical and theoretical work and provide possible alternatives. Concepts from sociology, gerontology, marketing, anthropology, and developmental psychology are used to identify possible alternatives to chronological age. Functional, subjective, cognitive, and contextual age are presented and explained and an overarching taxonomy is presented that compares these age concepts. Special focus is on the contribution of adult developmental psychology as a basis for theory building.

Keywords: conceptualizations of age; chronological age; subjective age

Article.  13504 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology

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