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Aging and Intelligence

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1 Aging and Intelligence
PS277 – Lecture 9

2 Cognitive Aging – The Far Side

3 Outline Definitions of Intelligence – A Short History
Everyday Conceptions of Intelligence Aging and Patterns of Change in Intelligence Factors Involved in These Changes

4 Baltes’ Framework on Intelligence Over the Lifespan
Intelligence as multi-dimensional concept? Multi-directionality in change Plasticity and training Interindividual variability in patterns

5 I. History of Intelligence as a Construct
Early Single-Factor Theories: Binet’s Test – diagnose children unable to cope with regular schooling in Paris system – focused on performance on reasoning tasks and gave a single score (M = 100) Spearman’s g – general factor theory = all tests correlated positively, a single general factor or “thing” called intelligence, on which everybody can be ranked

6 Multiple Factor Theories
Thurstone’s Original 7 Primary Mental Abilities Verbal meaning Perceptual speed Reasoning Number Associative memory Word fluency Spatial orientation

7 Secondary Mental Abilities
Interactions and structures that combine these primary abilities (6 studied so far) Fluid vs. Crystallized Intelligence – two most widely studied developmentally Fluid = seeing patterns and relationships in novel situations, abstracting information – letter series (d f i m r x e ?) Crystallized = incorporated the knowledge and information of the culture (what word is associated with bathtub, prizefighting and wedding?)

8 Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

9 II. Everyday Intelligence: What’s Your View?
List behaviors that you think are characteristic of young adults who are highly intelligent vs. those who aren’t? Anything special about older people who are highly intelligent vs. those who are not?

10 Everyday Conceptions of Intelligence
Sternberg’s research on lay people vs. experts’ conceptions of intelligence 122 Lay Persons: 3 factors found were labeled practical problem-solving ability, verbal ability, social competence 140 Experts: 3 factors found were labeled verbal intelligence, problem-solving ability, practical intelligence Pretty similar in having multiple factors, but more emphasis on social competence by lay persons, recent emphasis on “emotional intelligence” in field may reflect need to get more at this in standard measures

11 Predictability from Standard IQ Tests
Scholastic performance: correlations show that prediction of school performance in kids is about .50 with various IQ tests – good but not great. Same sort of findings with respect to university performance and standardized tests (e.g., GREs) Occupational performance: some predictability, but this may depend on relations with level of school attainment... practical intelligence measures do just as well as standard IQ tests Adjustment: some weak associations for children, but generally not much, emotional and social intelligence might predict better Not such a great record for such a big business!

12 III. Patterns of Test Performance and Aging – Fluid vs. Crystallized IQ

13 Baltes’ Framework on Types of Intelligence
Mechanics of Intelligence – biologically based development, influenced by how the brain works, skills needed for schooling, develops most in early life – somewhat parallel to fluid intelligence Pragmatics of Intelligence – everyday knowledge and skills for solving problems, wisdom, verbal knowledge, more growth into later life – very close to crystallized intelligence

14 IV. Factors Moderating Patterns of Change in Intelligence Performance in Later Life
Age is not really a meaningful explanation of anything – why? Cohort Differences – the Flynn Effect Health Status and Terminal Drop Information Processing Factors Social and Lifestyle Variables

15 Cohort Factors in Intelligence – The Flynn Effect
IQ test actual scores have increased on average for last 50 years. Why? Technology, nutrition, education of parents, other ideas? Maybe intelligence really is not fixed

16 Cohort Differences in Aging and Intelligence
Cohort Differences in Aging and Intelligence? – Seattle Longitudinal Study

17 Health and Terminal Drop
Lindenberger and Baltes’ findings on sensory function and fluid intelligence Biological age and primary abilities in Victoria Study – book shows that a lot of the variation in primary abilities is predictable from biological age measures Terminal drop as a phenomenon in all of these data sets

18 Victoria Study Data on Biological Age as Predictor of Cognitive Change

19 Information Processing and Intelligence Tests – Componential Analyses
Earl Hunt’s work: performance on IQ tests seems to be substantially a function of individual differences in information processing – one component of this is speed Example: Hi vs. lo verbal test performers differed in speed of reaction to (A, a) vs. (A, A) stimulus sets when have to respond “same” if each letter has same name, “different” if they don’t (A, B) Task componential analysis: In order to solve the (A, a) problem, must also retrieve the names of the two letters, so this is how much longer this takes over the (A, A) case Speed of processing and working memory declines may account for much of aging losses in later life intelligence test performance

20 Occupational Effects on Intelligence in Adulthood
Schooler’s work on occupational complexity and intelligence Male workers (and some wives) interviewed and tested in 1964, 1974, 1994 – mean age was 57 in 1994 Work complexity was rated, cognitive tests like recall, PMA verbal meaning, etc. Used SEM to test a model of reciprocal influence between work and IQ, separated for older and younger worker groups

21 Schooler et al.’s Model of Effects for Young vs. Older Workers

22 Training Intelligence – Schaie and Willis Work
Seattle Longitudinal Study Trained Spatial Orientation or Inductive Reasoning skills, depending on problems Clear benefits in 65% of older adults Persisted over 7 to 14 years in follow-ups

23 Schaie & Baltes

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