Psychological views on aging – our notions about aging, old age, and older people – are the topic of a special section of the December issue of the European Journal of Ageing (EJA). The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly amplified the timeliness of the research: Older people have been mostly regarded as one, barely differentiated risk group, as vulnerable, helpless, and in need of society’s protection. This is a scientifically untenable simplification that could jeopardize efforts to establish more differentiated views on aging and to reduce age discrimination.
The current special section in EJA is guest edited by Verena Klusmann (University of Konstanz and Hamburg University) and Anna E. Kornadt (Université du Luxembourg). Since 2017 they have been working together with colleagues in the DFG Scientific Network ‘Images of Aging’. In eight articles the international contributors present new theoretical, methodological, and empirical perspectives on the structure, origins, and outcomes of views on ageing across the life span.
The authors show how notions about one’s own aging and the aging of others differ between older and younger adults and that people who feel younger take up other everyday activities and even live longer than people who feel older. In further contributions it becomes evident that people who are physically active feel younger in the subsequent up to 20 years, while after critical health events views on aging show to be more negative. The special section is framed by a theoretical article, which presents a lifespan approach for views on aging, and by a review, which suggests validated and innovative assessment tools. The special section in EJA thus presents the state-of-the-art in psychological views on aging research and provides a series of new and innovative findings that help us better understand positive aging.
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