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Age Related Psychological Change

By Cathtastrophe Oct 22, 2008 731 Words
Measuring age-related psychological change is an exceptionally difficult and challenging task for even highly skilled professionals. The reasons for this are vast, but there is a general consensus of issues running commonly throughout selected articles in which will be discussed. Common threads of concern in measuring psychological change are firstly defining what age is and how best it is measured to determine differences. Age can be described as one of the most primary social and cultural categories that are universal. (Settersten 1997) Ageing, in humans refers to a process of physical, psychological and social change. It is however an ambigous notion is as it has such a variance in its definition and structuring. What is considered a norm is highly debateable when defining age. Cohorts, cultural differences, values, behaviours even health all present a problem when measuring normalities of aging. Age is essentially an empty variable. How can a scientific measurements be applied and be reliable? Both Hertzog (2003) and Little, Lindenberger and Nesseleroade (1999) suggest the main complexity of reliable research into psychological change is how the measurements are used and applied. Heynes (1995), Hofer; Sliwinski and Flaherty (2002) also all discussed and compared the psychological methods of measurement that are being used and their effectiveness in assessing psychological change relating to age. Interestingly, it is not only issues of choice of design it was also suggested by Hertzog (2003) problems begin with experts unable to ciome to an agreement on measuring, conceptualizing and representing of qualitative change. Measurement began with different methods giving different results there by, relationships between variables not reliable indications Heynes ( 1995) described the measurement tools usually associated with aging research such as cross sectional, longitudinal and time series all caused problems in measuring differences as there was limited allowance for individual differences

The three aforementioned research types are used commonly to measure age related psychological change, Heynes (19995) Hertzog (2003) Hofer et. al (2002) and Little et. Al (1999) all identified the choice of modelling technique and the meticulous application to obtain a true result. Reliability, validity and cohort affects also apparent.

When looking specifically at age related psychological change we can relate/ discuss complexities of the participant. That is, referring to older people, for example over 65 years. Evidence suggests that majority of older people with suspected psychological problems do not seek or receive adequate mental health service. (Lazarus, Sadavoy and Langsley 1991) describe the one of the many barriers in assessment of psychological change is older people, in their current cohort may have beliefs such as depression/anxiety are expected in old age and should be "put up with" Once these barriers are overcome the individual may then finally be able to be evaluated there are other problems that affect assessment, notably sensory and physical declines and medication affects. Vision problems plague many older adults, as can hearing decline. Stamina and information processing, as typically, with age due to changes in heart functioning, circulation. Information processing/reaction times are slowed, especially in test situations where anxiety and fatigue become problems. Health/medical illnesses and medication, commonly used by older adults can also impact on results of tests. Again relating to the empty variable issue of age. Ideally, assessments of age related psychological change would have baseline test data from earlier years which current performance could be compared. This is unfortunately not often available so the psychologist administering the assessment has to estimate abilities taking into account socioeconomic status, education, occupational history, family etc. Human judgement often is a systematic bias that can lead to inaccurate results. (Kareken 1997) This bias/inconsistency was also discussed as a major factor of concern for Hertzog (2003) and conversely, the over-compensation for this humanistic bias also leads to inaccurate results (Little et al 1999).

Karaken, D.A. (1997) Judgement pitfalls in estimating premorbid intellectual function. Archives of Clinical Nueropsychology 12, 701-709 Haynes, S.N. , Blaine, D. , Meyer, K. (1995) Dynamic models for psycholgocial assessment phase space functions, Psychological Assessment 7 (1) 17-24

Little, T.D., Lindenberger, U., Nesselroade, J.R. (1999) On Selecting Indicators for multivariate measurement and modelling with latent variables; when "good" indicators are bad and "bad" indicators are good. Psychological Methods 4 (2) 192-211

Hertzog, C., Nesselroade, J.R. (2003) Assessing psychological change in adulthood: an overview of methodological issues. Psychology and aging 18 (4) 639-657`````

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