Handbook of the Psychology of Aging

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Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
2011 10.1016/B978-0-12-380882-0.00003-6
Historical Influences on Aging and Behavior
K.Warner Schaie
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
Introduction 41
Theories and Concepts
Conceptual Frameworks
Three Environmental Systems A Co-Constructive Framework Selected Neurobiological and
Sociocultural Influences Secular Cohort Trends in Cognition Generational Differences in Cognition 46
Educational Influences
The Impact of the GI Bill National Defense Education Act Historical Change in Educational Curriculum and Pedagogy
Changes of Occupational Status
and Work Complexity
Changes in Healthcare, Chronic
Disease and Lifestyles
Hypertension Cardiovascular Disease Diabetes Health Behaviors
The Role of Immigration


Societal Interventions to Reduce
Poverty in Targeted Populations
Summary and Future Directions
References 50
Like most American psychologists trained in the middle of the twentieth century in the tradition of Midwestern dust-bowl empiricism, I began my work on aging and behavior by treating behavior as a “ black box ” that could be studied without much attention to the environment or the biological infrastructure of the individual. But my concerns were soon broadened by exposure to the interdisciplinary community of gerontologists (cf. Schaie, 2000 ). My initial interest in considering historical influences on aging and behavior were stimulated primarily by methodological concerns related to disentangling of the different components of developmental change occurring over the lifespan and clarifying the distinction of inferences that can be drawn from the study of cross-sectional age differences and longitudinal age changes (cf. Schaie, 1965,

1977, 1988, 1994, b, 2007 ). While the historical influences implicit in the cohort and period effects were first seen primarily as confounds in both cross- sectional or longitudinal research of aging parameters that needed to be controlled (also see Kuhlen, 1940 ), these influences sooner or later began to intrigue meas substantive issues worth study in their own right. My exposure to the substantive issues of cohort effects was sharpened by my long and fruitful interaction with the eminent sociologist Matilda Riley ( Riley et al., 1972; Riley & Riley, 1994 ). My interaction with her also led to my launching a series of interdisciplinary conferences on social structures and aging that led to a volume series of topical monographs charting the influence of macro-social structure on individual

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