The Psychology of Age

The terms ‘age’ and the concept of ‘aging’ seem to have more negative associations than it did in the past. With it comes a pressure to hold onto youthfulness for as long as possible and battle against passing into the later stages of maturity. What might have prompted the shift?

A factor that’s been cited many times is the pace at which our current culture is developing. In societies where there was little change from one generation to the next, skills and knowledge could accumulate over the years. Wisdom and social acumen would be in the hands of the old. But in today’s world, new trends and technologies emerge so quickly that accumulated wisdom becomes rapidly obsolete. As people age, they must constantly unlearn and relearn to keep current, and the greater skills are perceived to lie with the young.

This situation can create a negative stereotype that’s all too common in the work place – the young are viewed as dynamic, culturally savvy and technologically competent, while older workers are pre-judged as stale, out of touch and easily bewildered. To make matters worse, constant change, obsolescence and downsizing in industry itself mean that more seasoned workers can find themselves dropped back into the job market where such prejudices have real consequences.

The high divorce rate also forces more people back into the the romantic market. This not only puts a greater burden on them to retain sexual attractiveness, they must re-adopt the mate-seeking concerns and behaviors of early adulthood.

So some of the factors which cause us to cling to the trappings and attitudes of youth is that we never know when we might need them again.