What a drag it is getting old: Awareness and appraisal of age related change in white men born between 1946 and 1955
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This study used interpretive phenomenological analysis to examine the experience of age-related change of a sample of white men born during the first half of the baby boom. The specific research questions asked (a) the extent to which these baby boomers are aware of age related change, and the meaning they make of it; (b) how age stereotypes affect their awareness of or the meanings they assign to age-related change; and (c) the extent to which social identity, especially identity as a baby boomer, affects awareness or appraisal of change. Participants noticed physical, cognitive, and social changes. Physical changes were seen as inevitable and as minor annoyances. Cognitive changes were minimized by participants except those whose identities were closely bound to intellect and those with family with dementia. Some increases in cognitive strength were seen, including better concentration and an increase in wisdom. Social changes were seen as positive, with emphasis on deeper, more selective relationships rather than broader, more shallow interactions. Family increased in importance for many, including relationships with siblings and adult children. Participants reflected a sense of contentment with their lives, resulting from satisfaction with their life situations, a reduction in work stress, a sense of greater meaning in life, and awareness of positive aspects of aging. Participants had a very positive attitude toward older adults, and did not seem to apply aging stereotypes to their own lives. Baby boom identity was neither important nor relevant in their lives, although they felt a sense of common experience with other baby boomers. Other social identities were more robust and salient. Overall, participants had positive feelings about becoming older. They see themselves as about a decade younger than their ages. They see opportunity and new experiences in their futures, and in general, they expect those futures to be lengthy.
Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology