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Psychol Aging. 2006 Jun;21(2):240-52.

Age-differential motivational consequences of optimization versus compensation focus in younger and older adults.

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Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.


Four studies investigated age-related differences in goal focus in younger and older adults. Studies 1 and 2 confirmed the hypothesis that younger adults are more persistent when the same sensorimotor task offers possibility for optimizing performance than when the task requires counteracting a loss in performance (compensation). In contrast, older adults were more persistent in the compensation than in the optimization condition. Study 3 showed that the age-differential effects of goal focus on persistence were not simply due to perceiving the 2 conditions as easy versus difficult. Study 4 ruled out that the age differences were due to differences in the 2 tasks themselves. Taken together, the studies underscore the importance of situating motivational research into a life span context.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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