Personality and Aging - Psychology

Personality and Aging

There is a fairly stable view, supported by numerous empirical studies, on characterological changes and age dynamics of personality characteristics in late life. According to these data, senile age is accompanied by an increase in uncertainty, anxiety, anxiety, pessimism, depression, sadness, gloominess; the emergence or strengthening of such traits as suspiciousness, resentment, intolerance, conservatism, irritability, intolerance, callousness. Widespread view of the sharpening or coarsening in the old age of past personal traits, for example, frugality turns into stinginess, caution - into cowardice, etc. Men exhibit passivity and other traits more characteristic of women, while older women become more aggressive, practical and powerful.

However, in other works, mainly in longitudinal studies, such cardinal and stable changes related to age were not found. On the contrary, there is a significant continuity in the type of personality in the transition from middle to late adulthood.

According to NF Shakhmatov, it is natural to consider normal cases of aging those cases when in old age there are no changes in character and for the rest of life the elderly remain the same people as they were before.

The personal adaptation to old age as an integral element includes the psychological need for memories and reflections on the past. The past for the elderly is more significant than the future, they are as if immersed in it. Elderly people should sum up and accept your past. D. Levinson calls this process a "look from the bridge". It is worth noting that autobiographical memories have a curative effect. Some researchers believe that it is necessary to support therapy with memories for the elderly, as this helps them to come to terms with life.

In old age, in addition to the basic problem of working out a relationship to a past life, another equally important task is being solved: the self-determination of a man of late age in relation to his real life, the search for the meaning of life in old age, his place and significance in the world and society A.P.Popogrebsky).

For some elderly people, according to the research of GA Vaiser, the narrowing, fading of the meaning of life is characteristic. The main thing for them is to "survive", to maintain health, i.e. the meaning of life loses scale, a person concentrates on himself, his individual life: "I am for myself." In others, the main goals of life are not only preserved, but also embodied in life and activity. In the hierarchical structure of the meanings of life of such people, the following are distinguished: to serve a lofty idea; the desire to achieve social justice; live for people; caring for children; to realize oneself in work, creativity; keep spirituality and show your best qualities. Thus, the main meanings of these people are associated with broad social and general human problems, are in the dyad "I am a society".

Different authors have repeatedly pointed out that mental aging is diverse, the range of its manifestations is very wide. Hence - the desire to identify, describe and analyze the various types of personal aging. Psychologist Dorothy Bromley proposed the following classification of personality adaptation to old age, which are reflected in other studies:

1. Constructive ratio (constructive type). Elderly people are balanced, satisfied with emotional contacts with others. They are moderately critical of themselves and tolerant of others. Do not dramatize the end of professional life, optimistic about life, and the possibility of death is interpreted as a natural event that does not cause sadness and fear. In the past, they did not survive too many injuries and shocks, have live interests, constant plans for the future, confidently count on the help of others. The self-esteem of such elderly people is quite high. They are adapted to aging, calm, love life and establish warm relations with others.

2. Dependency relation. Dependent type ("rocking chair") is a person relying not on themselves, but on the help of others, subordinate to someone, dependent on a married partner or from their child, not having too high claims of life and thanks to this willingly leaving the professional environment and work-related responsibilities and strains. The family environment provides him with a sense of security, helps maintain inner harmony, emotional balance.

3. Defensive ratio (protective type). For people of this type are characterized by exaggerated emotional restraint, some straightforwardness in their actions and habits, the desire for self-sufficiency and reluctant acceptance of help from others. Protective mechanisms against the feeling of fear of death and deprivation are the activity through force. They are very reluctant and only under the pressure of others leave their professional work.

4. Attitude of hostility to others (aggressively defensive type). These people are aggressive, suspicious, seek to shift to others the blame and responsibility for their own failures. Usually they have an inadequate image of themselves and the world. Mistrust and suspicion make them shut up in themselves, avoid contact with other people. Their life path, as a rule, was accompanied by numerous stresses and failures. They are desperately thinking of a progressive loss of strength, hostile to the young. These people are characterized by a strong fear of death.

5. The relation of man's hostility to himself (self-accusatory type). People of this type are passive, do not rebel against their old age, accept without hesitation everything that destiny sends, avoid memories, because in their lives there were many failures and difficulties. The inability to satisfy the need for love is the cause of depression, self-esteem and sadness. To this joins the feeling of loneliness and uselessness. Own aging is considered quite realistic. Completion of life, death is interpreted by these people as a deliverance from suffering.


H. S. Prjazhnikov considers a number of personal neoplasms inherent in each stage of the elderly and senile age.

1. Elderly, pre-retirement age is characterized by:

• a change in value orientations, when existential questions come to the fore;

• Search for meanings in a new, forthcoming life activity (in a pensioner's life);

• stretch time perspective - a person inevitably thinks about the near future, strives to realize himself in the present as a "still valuable worker", increasingly reflects on his past.

2. For the retirement period is typical:

• self-awareness in a new capacity - as a pensioner

• the emergence of either a sense of the integrity and harmony of one's life, or the feeling of "incompleteness", the inharmony of life,

• increasing feelings of unrealizedness of their best thoughts and neglect on the part of recent colleagues and friends.

3. For the period of actual old age are peculiar:

• either a strengthening self-esteem, when a person finds an important meaning of his life, or a feeling of despair when such a meaning is not there;

• A renewed interest in life (comparing its and new time.)

4. For longevity in conditions of a sharp deterioration in health is characterized by an understanding of the limitations of their lives and involvement in the infinite (peace, nature, culture, God, humanity).

5. For longevity with a relatively good health are typical:

• self-esteem, interest in life, inner harmony, wisdom;

• high level of epistemic knowledge.

So, old age bears not only a change in the objective external situation of life, but also changes in the internal, concerning the personal sphere, which largely depend on the individual characteristics of the person and the whole history of his life.

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