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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2004 Dec;30(12):1599-610.

Gender, social class, and the subjective experience of aging: self-perceived personality change from early adulthood to late midlife.

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University of Michigan, Department of Psychology, Ann Arbor, USA.


This study explored the applicability of previous research (obtained with groups of college-educated women) about the subjective experience of aging in midlife to men and less-educated people. Two-hundred fifty-nine men and women who graduated from a public high school in 1955-1957 retrospectively assessed their feelings of identity certainty, confident power, generativity, and concern about aging for their 60s, 40s, and 20s. Participants reported higher levels of identity certainty, confident power, and concern about aging at each age, and a leveling off of generativity in their 60s. There were some gender and social class differences. Although men and women recalled the same trajectory of these feelings, men reported higher levels of identity certainty and confident power across age. Non-college-educated men recalled the highest levels of concern about aging across age. We discuss how these findings add to our understanding of the experience of aging in these domains.

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