Quotations about


Though the differences between the young and the old border on being matters of both banality and delicacy, they have a particular interest. Differences between people in sex, class and race have all proved relatively contentious even in recent times; by contrast, little is heard today of 'the generation gap.' How age differences are handled may thus provide a model of how to treat other, less obvious and still more sensitive differences between major, visible human groups.
Three considerations help keep temperatures down as age differences are discussed.
(1) Age differences are pretty clearly dimensional, and not absolute; and they are not all 'negative'. There are few 'black-and-white' differences, for all that some proportion of the problems of the elderly obviously arise from particular devastating afflictions like Alzheimer's disease. Health, vigour, looks and intelligence are admittedly at their peak (in the average person) in youth; and ageing sees a decline which, though barely perceptible at first, is marked after 55. However, compensation is normally thought to be provided by increased caution, wisdom, moral rectitude, good-naturedness and by deep and fulfilling experiences of prolonged affectionate relationships with family and friends.
(2) Equally agreeably, temptations to 'label' and criticise people of another age group are held in check by: (a) the sympathy that the elderly sometimes have for the young-through recall of their own youth and realization that grandchildren are their only way to continued genetic investment; (b) the elderly often needing the support of the young (especially in social security contributions); (c) young people recognizing that they, too, will one day be old in their turn.
(3) Modern advanced economies mediate between the young and the old: they provide funds and welfare personnel intended to cope both with the youthful problems of ignorance, crime, promiscuity and illegitimacy and with the needs of the elderly for home helps, sheltered accommodation and spare part surgery.
In these congenial circumstances, it should be relatively easy to be 'objective' about the major psychological differences that distinguish the old from the young-even about the gf level of the typical 80-year-old adult, which approximates that of a normal 8-year-old child. Yet many psychologists have been reluctant to admit such 'realities' without much qualification. Psychometricians have blamed apparent age differences on possible 'cohort effects' between generations-arguing that today's sixty-year-olds grew up without the welfare state and modern agriculture, whereas today's thirty-year-olds enjoyed, from the cradle, welfare and a good diet that will still be serving them well by the time when they, too, reach sixty. Experimental psychologists, on the other hand are more accepting of the evidence that age-declines are indeed seen in cohort and longitudinal studies. Yet they see age differences partly as artefacts of coarse psychometric testing procedures; and partly as resulting from specific quirks and maladaptive strategies on the part of the elderly that might remain untriggered if only tasks were re-designed and the elderly re-trained by experimentalists.
Rather in contrast with such speculations, the 1980's witnessed the arrival on the scene of measures of speed-of-intake (for simple perceptual information) that make it hard to attribute age-declines to problems of decision-making, strategy-organization, lack of interest, or unfamiliarity with the psychological laboratory {see also Quotes IX}. Piagetian measures, too, showed the elderly to be at just as marked a disadvantage as they are on traditional mental tests {see also Quotes XII}.
None of this means that society should not ascribe special rights to the elderly and the middle-aged-even the right to continued employment. Yet- as when other groups are considered for privileged treatment- the adage should be recalled that 'Rights without duties are not worth having'. If the middle-aged and the elderly are to be shown 'positive discrimination' (perhaps starting with employers not being allowed to advertise specifically for employees from younger age groups), what are their special duties? Human societies may perhaps have to be admitted as incapable of a realistic handling of human abilities that treats everyone-of whatever age, sex, class-of-origin or race-quite simply by exactly similar standards, as individuals. However, if rights and privileges are to be accorded to particular groups, beneficiaries themselves would probably feel more secure if the positive discrimination in their favour were premissed on something more than charitable whimsy.
Most naturally, the elderly would play a special role in the nurture and education of young children. Yet this is hardly possible on any scale when 'teachers' in state schools require a sympathy with youth 'culture' and black belts in judo; and when even progress in the English language (with which the elderly are best equipped to assist) is not used as a basis for promoting children to more advanced classes. So far, the problem of increasingly large proportions of elerly people has been addressed by the empty rhetoric of similitarian wishful thinking. Unless there is increasing realism about the contribution that the elderly can make to the economy and society, the elderly may find the young increasingly keen to relieve them of their expensive welfare rights and benefits-at first by some kind of purchase, but eventually by robbery (already a familiar tower-block sport).


For more coverage of ageing in relation to intelligence, see:
BRAND, C.R. (1996) The g Factor.
Chichester : Wiley DePublisher.
The book was first issued, in March, but then withdrawn by the 'publisher' because it was deemed to have infringed modern canons of
'political correctness.'
It received a perfectly favourable review in Nature (May 2, 1996, p. 33).

For a Summary of the book, Newsletters concerning the
de-publication affair, details of how to see the book for scholarly purposes, and others' comments and reviews,
see the Internet URL sites:

For Chris Brand's 'Get Real About Race!'-his popular exposition of his views on race and education in the Black
hip-hop music magazine 'downlow' (Autumn, 1996)-see:



(i) Age differences asserted. 5

(ii) Age differences denied. 8

(iii) Lifespan development. 11

(iv) The role of g in ageing. 14

(v) Ageism. 18

(vi) Handy tips. 20


(i) Age differences asserted

"The young are in character prone to desire and ready to carry any desire they may have formed into action. Of bodily desires it is the sexual to which they are most disposed to give way, and in regard to sexual desire they exercise no self-restraint. They are changeful, too, and fickle in their desires, which are as transitory as they are vehement; for their wishes are keen without being permanent, like a sick man's fits of hunger and thirst. They are passionate, irascible and apt to be carried away by their impulses. They are the slaves, too, of their passions, as their ambition prevents their ever brooking a slight and renders them indignant at the mere idea of enduring an injury."
ARISTOTLE, Rhetoric.

"What a good thing it would be if every scientific man was to die when sixty years old, as afterwards he would be sure to oppose all new doctrines."

"I have two fixed ideas well known to my friends.... The first is the comparative uselessness of men over forty years of age.... The second is the {unqualified} uselessness of men above sixty."
Sir William OSLER (Professor of Clinical Medicine at
John Hopkins University, then aged 56), 1905.

"I feel like an aeroplane at the end of a long flight, in the dusk, with the petrol running out, in search of a safe landing."
Sir Winston Churchill (aged 80), 1954. Quoted by
Martin Gilbert, Never Despair. London : Heinemann.

"The lethargy of extreme old age dulls many sensibilities."
Mary SOAMES, 1979, Clementine Churchill. London : Cassell.

"Following the initial stability over the early age groups [ages 17 - 29], total Sensation Seeking Scale score is seen to decline consistently with age {till around 55, which was as far as the study went}."
I.L.BALL et al., 1984, British Journal of Psychology 75.

"Many studies based on laboratory research show that the elderly do not learn as well as younger people. Several reasons for this have been found.
(1) They may take longer to process and retrieve information.
(2) They fail to encode or organize the information as well as younger
(3) They prefer pre-established habits.
(4) They may be very uncomfortable in laboratory situations."
R.ORNSTEIN, 1985, Psychology.
San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

"It is well known that elderly people often attribute all the ills of the world to a single cause, e.g. the philosopher Kant and electricity." Lord BLAKE, 1986, letter to The Times, c. 30 ix.

"....old age prevents a man from having complex mathematical thoughts."
R.SWINBURNE, 1986, The Evolution of the Soul.
Oxford : Clarendon Press.

"One of the more disheartening experiences of old age is discovering that a point you have just made - so significant, so beautifully expressed - was made in something you published a long time ago."
B.F.SKINNER, 1987, Upon Further Reflection.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice Hall.

"The inference [from present results] that factors related to the quality of internal representation are important in the age differences in the Block Design task is similar to conclusions reached earlier in analyses of age differences in Series Completion and Mental Synthesis tasks. Difficulties in establishing and maintaining adequate internal representations of relevant task features may, therefore, be a common thread unifying what have previously been considered unrelated phenomena of cognitive aging {sic}."
T.A.SALTHOUSE, 1987, Intelligence 11.

"Age - that's the only reasonable and personally acceptable for my increasing inability to sympathize with many of the demands made by the Left and the so-called disadvantaged."
Robert KILROY-SILK (a Merseyside Labour M.P., 1974 - 1986),
1987, The Times, 24 x.

"When people have to remember to perform an act in the future, they must also keep a record of the act {once} performed so as not to repeat it. This neglected aspect of everyday memory was investigated by examining the alleged preponderance of action repetitions in old age (e.g. telling the same story over and over, taking a medicine too often, etc.).... the tendency to repeat words in free recall [of word lists] was found to be stronger among older than among younger subjects.... How does the memory that I have told a joke differ from the memory that I have heard it? Perhaps the critical difference is that memory for output occurrence concerns one's own actions."
Journal of Memory & Language 27.

"We began [our Gallup Poll of British men, across ages 16 - 35] with....the question: 'OF COURSE, WE ALL HOPE THAT THERE WILL NOT BE ANOTHER WAR. BUT IF IT WERE TO COME TO THAT, WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO FIGHT FOR YOUR COUNTRY?' Altogether, just over half of these young Britons gave an unreserved commitment to war. But those below the twenty-five year watershed were more eager than those above it. The years of highest sexual, criminal and athletic vigour are also the high days of military verve."
Paul BARKER, 1988, Sunday Telegraph (Colour Supplement), 29 v.

"Much of the most recent new work on ageing appears to have come from experimental studies on lower organisms ranging from slime moulds and nematodes to {those} classic metazoons for genetic research, Drosophila. According to R.S.Sohal (in M.Rothstein, Review of Biological Research in Aging 3), there is no a priori reason to assert that the mechanisms of ageing in invertebrates are qualitatively different from those of mammals.... Data from many sources....suggest that DNA damage is a primary event in ageing, and that oxidative changes caused by free radicals are a potential major cause of this damage."
K.J.COLLINS, 1988, Biology and Society 5, vi.

"....A.F.Elo's (1965, J.Gerontology) longitudinal study of master chess players concluded that, at age 63, almost thirty years beyond their peak, they were performing at a level like that back when they were only 20 - but not as well as they did in their late thirties."
Lawrence S. WRIGHTSMAN, 1988, Personality Development
in Adulthood
. Newbury Park, Ca. : Sage.

"The performance of old and young adults on a verbal memory task was examined under conditions of divided attention, factorially manipulated at encoding and retrieval. The data analyses yielded a significant Age x Encoding interaction, indicating that older people's memory was much more disrupted than young adults' when distraction occurred at encoding."
Denise C. PARK (University of Georgia), 1988, to 24th
International Congress of Psychology, Sydney (S728).

"....once Steffi [Graf] gets going she's difficult to stop. She's 19 while I'm 31, and it's much easier to get a 19-year-old body warmed up.... I would love to have that record [of winning the women's championship at Wimbledon for the ninth time] but I certainly don't feel any shame for not breaking it. Eight ain't so bad."
Martina NAVRATILOVA, 1988, reported by Sue Mott,
Sunday Times, 3 viii.

(ii) Age differences denied

"[There is] no interesting difference between age or ability groups that must be ascribed to differences in capacities."
J.BARON, 1978.

"....practically nothing of consequence can be incontrovertibly shown to distinguish the old from the not-so-old, with the possible exception of sensory-motor slowing."
M.J.CHANDLER, 1980, in R.R.Turner & X.Hayne,
Life-span Developmental Psychology.

"The evidence slowly accumulating now makes it increasingly probable that chronological age per se has little effect on human abilities. It is rather the accumulation of physiological damage over the life span, and the onset of diseases accompanying age, which bring a stable plateau of peak mental performance to an abrupt end in a "terminal drop" accompanying increasing pathology."
P.M.A.RABBITT, 1986, in R.Harré & R.Lamb, The Dictionary of Developmental and Educational Psychology. Oxford : Blackwell.

"....much of what we understand by 'old age' is socially constructed."
Julia TWIGG, 1987,
Times Higher Educational Supplement, No. 749, 13 iii.

"The belief that people's memory and learning abilities decline with advancing age is being challenged by research at several Max Planck Institutes in West Germany. Professor Franz Emanuel Weinert, director of the Psychological Research Institute, told a Hamburg conference on learning and age that the reason why human beings were presumed to have lost some of their intellectual capacity in advanced years could be {traced} to their lifestyle and not their potential: in many cases they simply did not use the brain power at their disposal. Another specialist, Professor Wolfgang Klein, said there was no scientific evidence that adults who wanted to become proficient in a foreign language faced a greater difficulty than children."
A.WISEMAN, 1987, 'Old age 'no handicap to learning''.
The Times, 9 xi.

"We can learn new things any time we decide."
A British 'Senior Citizen' discussing the new phenomenon of 'WOOPIES' ('Well-Off Older People'), 1987, BBC IV UK, 3 xii.

"Many people of advanced years possess considerable memory reserves which could be used to study and think."
Professor Paul BALTES, 1987, quoted by A.Wiseman, The Times, 9 xi.

"....many psychological researchers fail to attend to the increasing range of individual differences with age, and inappropriately infer universal age decrements from average changes occasioned by the increasing proportion of individuals at risk [of ill health] as they age."
K.W.SCHAIE, 1988, 'Ageism in psychological research'.
American Psychologist 43.

"We know that the brain is capable of mental feats way in excess of our everyday requirements. And we also know that the generally accepted view that intelligence declines with age is a myth. It is true that statistically IQ tends to decline from around the age of twenty onwards. But it is also true that there is no scientific reason why this should be so. Books on the brain almost invariably say that 'it is generally thought' that brain cells are lost as the brain grows older - possibly at the rate of 100,000 cells a day. But no definitive evidence for this assumption has yet been found."
Richard ASKWITH, 1988, 'What's in a brain?'
Sunday Telegraph (Colour Supplement), 22 v.

"Old age really is a state of mind. You can become young again almost at once."
Callan PINCKNEY, 1989, Callanetics. New York : Arrow.

"There is tremendous untapped energy and creativity to be found in the over-40's.... There is no necessary connection between being young and being radical."
Contributor to 'Open Mind', BBC IV UK, 11 vi 1991.


"[In his book, Kausler] explicitly rejects what he calls the 'Pollyanna attitude' that seeks, in the face of evidence to the contrary) to maintain that human cognition is not adversely affected by ageing. This view, which seems to have been gaining ground of late, appears to be engendered by the kind of misplaced sensitivity that refuses to see any faults in 'minority groups'."
Gillian COHEN, 1984, British Journal of Psychology.

"Although there are indeed memory changes with aging, there is no evidence that these are widespread, pervasive, or irreversible.... Although some problems may be organically based, the more common forms of memory loss are likely due largely to disuse (Schaie & Willis, 1986, Dev.Psychol. 2).... Even if some memory loss is due to irreversible organic changes, varying degrees of compensation are possible through extra effort and external aids (Baltes & Baltes, 1990, Successful Aging)."
Margie E. LACHMAN, 1991, Journal of Social Issues 47.

(iii) Lifespan development

"Haydn lived for 77 years; at age 63, in the year 1795, he composed his trumpet concerto, still considered the premiere trumpet concerto in the world, and in his late sixties and early seventies he composed his famous oratorios, The Creation and The Seasons."
Lawrence S. WRIGHTSMAN, 1988, Personality Development
in Adulthood
. Newbury Park, CA : Sage.

"[Gail Sheehy's (1983, Pathfinders)] three years of research were based on two national surveys that yielded 60,000 life-history questionnaires, followed by dozens of research workshops and personal interviews in thirty-eight states [of the USA], four Canadian provinces, and three European countries. She wrote: "Consistently, in every sample, whether men or women, the people who enjoy the highest well-being in life are likely to be the older ones.... despite the 'danger zone' [for menopausal women], a mobilization usually begins in the late forties that registers with rising exhilaration as women move into their fifties.... For many men....a take-off into high satisfaction occurred in the late fifties, rose in the early part of the sixties, and for a considerable number leveled off beyond that on a high plateau.""
R.D.LOOMIS, 1993, The Atlantic 272, viii.

"Analysis of more objective productivity indices demonstrated performance increases as employees grew older. Conversely, supervisor ratings showed small declines in performance with increasing age.... A possible explanation is that individual productivity represents a fairer representation of performance....
The older worker who may appear to be dull as compared with a younger, more enthusiastic worker may have become so due to years of accumulated boredom. Offering older workers renewed stimulation at key points in their careers may help to maintain high levels of productivity."
D.A.WALDMAN & B.J.AVOLIO, 1986, 'A meta-analysis of age differences in job performance'.
Journal of Applied Psychology 71.

"Ms H.'s erotomanic symptoms began abruptly at age 75, after she met a 19-year-old maintenance man sent to repair her apartment's plumbing. In the days immediately following her visit, Ms H informed her family that the man was going to marry her.... Over the next two years, Ms H. talked frequently about her boyfriend and their impending marriage.... To the best of our knowledge, this constitutes the oldest age of onset for erotomania.... Apparently, age is no barrier to romantic delusions."
W.C.DREVETS & E.H.RUBEN, 1987, British Journal of Psychiatry 151.

"[According to Norma Haan's researches with well-adjusted adults of all ages,] "the older persons, in their sixties and seventies, emphasized....traits in themselves such as their capacity for intimacy and close interpersonal relations. They were more protective of others and placed high value on cheerfulness, gregariousness, and a sense of humour. They cared less for manifesting intellectual skills.""
Lawrence S. WRIGHTSMAN, 1988, Personality Development in
. Newbury Park, CA : Sage.

"....elderly subjects (age 65 and older) were the most altruistic of the age groups studied. These individuals reported more pity toward someone in need, less anger, and greater willingness to offer help...."
S.GRAHAM, 1988, to 24th International Congress
of Psychology, Sydney (T152).

"Old age is marked by increasing vulnerability. Thus, contextual conditions may exert greater impact. On the one hand, stressful contextual events which can easily be responded to by the young adult organism overtax the old organism, and lead to a situation in which compensatory efforts are not possible any longer. On the other hand, favorable contextual conditions can have considerable positive and enhancing consequences."
M.M.BALTES (Free University of Berlin), 1988, to 24th
International Congress of Psychology, Sydney (S587).

"[My] results highlight the joint occurrence of losses and gains in adult competencies. While typical age-related declines were observed on standard measures of physical and cognitive abilities, age-related improvements were observed on measures of tacit job knowledge and job performance."
Marion PERLMUTTER (University of Michigan), 1988, to 24th
International Congress of Psychology, Sydney (S585).

"Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"
From the Book of Job; quoted in Times Higher Educational
, 20 x 1989, in a news report announcing that Mr
R.Slater ( University of Wales Institute of Science and
Technology) had been granted £65,000 by the Economic and Social
Science Research Council so as to provide the answer.

"Costa and McCrae found remarkable consistency over time [in Extraversion, Neuroticism and Openness]. Over a 12-year period, people changed very little... Similar results were found in other studies spanning 8 years....and even 30 years (Leon et al., 1979, J.Consulting & Clinical Psychol. 47). Taken together, these studies show relative stability in personality traits of up to 30 years and over the age range of 20-90."
R.SCHULZ et al., 1991, Journal of Social Issues 47.

"....evidence in the literature shows a higher continuity from aggression [in childhood] to antisocial behaviour [in adolescence and beyond] for men than for women. Female career development is also more easily influenced by current life tasks, such as child birth, than male career development."
L. PULKKINEN, 1992, European Journal of Personality 6, 2.

"The aetiology of borderline [personality disorder] states is unclear. As with most other psychiatric disorders, a combination of social risk factors (severe abuse in early life) and biological vulnerability (genetic loading for manic-depressive psychosis) is indicated (M.H.Stone, 1990, The Fate of Borderline Patients). The precise balance of the two probably holds the key to many outstanding controversies concerning diagnostic heterogeneity.... Stone's 20-year follow-up of 502 patients strongly indicates that the long-term prognosis is good, and approximately 66% of patients end up functioning normally or only with minimal symptoms. It is as if maturation and decreased energy levels and impulsivity with ageing brought about a developmental cure."
Anna HIGGITT and Peter FONAGY (Freud Memorial Professor, Psychoanalysis Unit, University College London), 1992, 'Psychotherapy in personality', British Journal of Psychiatry.

(iv) The role of g in ageing

"Today, I have none of that drive, that engrossing, dominating need to fiddle with and manipulate ideas and data in psychology.... The real change, I conclude, is a lowered ability to think; the loss of interest in psychological projects is secondary to that."
Donald O. HEBB (at age 74), 1978, Psychology Today 15.

"Some of the most dramatic age differences reported in cognitive psychology tasks are found in the accuracy of identifying briefly presented stimuli."
T.A.SALTHOUSE, 1982, Adult Cognition: an Experimental
Psychology of Human Aging
. New York : Springer.

"It would appear that the question of whether intelligence declines with age and, if it does, what exactly the nature of the decline is, can now be answered with the aid of the Inspection Time procedure. This, being a psychophysical measure of intellectual ability, is {presumably} devoid of all the confounding variables inherent in the traditional study methods, such as time and cohort differences. In a normal sample of the population, Inspection Time is found to increase significantly with age. {I.T. and age were correlated at +.48 over ages 15 - 73 in the study.} Thus the decline in intelligence with age is in fluid abilities at some level prior to that of Short Term Memory."
Lorna I. HOGG, 1983, 'The psychological correlated of ageing'.
Edinburgh University, Dept Psychology : Final Honours Thesis.

"When cross-sectional studies of Piagetian tasks were carried out, old people were found to perform more like young children on classificatory tasks, to be more animistic, more egocentric, and to be less likely to display formal thought than young adults."
Johanna TURNER, 1983, Cognitive Development and Education.
London : Methuen.

"From young adulthood to old age there is a regular year-to-year decline in the averages for some of the abilities of intelligence - namely Gfluid, Gvisual and Gspeed abilities; in the same samples of subjects there is also regular year-to-year increase in the averages for other abilities that are said to indicate intelligence - namely the Gcrystallized and TSR abilities."
J.L.HORN, 1985, in B.B.Wolman, Handbook of Intelligence.
New York : Wiley.

"This study provides support....for the hypothesis that an important predictor of mortality in the elderly is their current level of cognitive and behavioural competence."
S.M.McLAREN, et al., 1986, British Journal of Clinical Psychology 25.

"....speed of processing slowly declines beyond middle age, and the decline is greatest on the very same elementary cognitive tasks that are the most highly correlated with g (e.g. Cerella et al., 1986, Intelligence 10)."
A.R.JENSEN, 1986, Journal of Vocational Behavior 29.

"The results of the study [of 260 army veterans, first tested with the "M" scales while army recruits in World War II] indicate that the level of general intellectual functioning of [those] men in their mid-sixties was slightly but reliably lower than it had been some forty years earlier. Taken together [with other similar studies] the findings suggest that the general intellectual functioning of Canadian army veterans peaked around the age of 40 and gradually declined to enlistment age levels when the men were in their mid-fifties.... Most of the loss was incurred on the nonverbal section of the test in the regular, timed condition and persisted in the double-time extension. Performance speed, therefore, did not appear to be a major factor contributing to the deficit. These results are consistent with previous reports of age-related decrement in the cognitive functions which have been identified as components of "fluid" intelligence (J.L.Horn, 1982, in B.Wolman, Handbook of Developmental Psychology)."
A.E.SCHWARTSMAN, Dolores GOLD, D.ANDRES, T.Y.ARBUCKLE & June CHAIKELSON, 1987, 'Stability of intelligence: a 40-year follow-
up'. Canadian Journal of Psychology 41.

"K.Bayles et al. (1986, Communication and Cognition in Normal Aging and Dementia) conclude that, in normal aging, the contents of semantic memory are relatively well preserved [e.g. as judged by naming objects and items in a category]; while considerable data weigh in favour of some deterioration in the processes of semantic memory [e.g. creating, relating and ordering ideas]."
R.JAFFARD, 1990, Neuropsychologia 28.

"My reasons for cancellation [of my subscription to Encounter, at age 72] are in part financial; in part lack of time (I also have subscriptions to The Economist, Scientific American, and to several professional developmental periodicals); in part, the realisation that my mental absorption capacity and absorption speed are diminishing with age."
H. de MEEHL, 1990, Encounter 74, vi.

"By age sixty-five, the brain has typically lost about 6 percent of its weight at twenty, and raw scores [on tests of general intelligence] are perhaps 15 percent lower. The age-norming scales used to derive IQs from WAIS raw scores tell us that peak performance is attained in the zone around ages twenty-five to thirty-four. WAIS raw scores average 103 at age 16, 114 at 25, 103 at 40, and 93 at 60."
Daniel SELIGMAN, 1992, A Question of Intelligence:
the IQ Debate in America.
New York : Carol (Birch Lane).>>

"Rabbitt (1992, in G.J.Evans & T.F.Williams, Oxford Textbook of Geriatric Medicine) has concluded, after conducting much research on the ageing of memory functions in a very large group of elderly subjects, that "the Alice Heim 4 IQ test picks up most but not all of the age-associated variance in performance between individuals".... There is a remarkable congruence between Salthouse (1985, A Theory of Cognitive Ageing) and Rabbitt who, after large reviews of relevant research, both come to the conclusion that the key variable that changes with age is speed of information processing, which slows as one grows older."
I.J.DEARY, 1993, 'Age-associated memory impairment: a suitable
case for treatment?' (Dept. Psychol.; Univ. Edinburgh.)

"Recent analyses of adult age changes in cognitive abilities (e.g. Hertzog & Schaie, 1988, Psychol. Aging 3) combined cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence and used latent structural modeling as well as hierarchical regressions to arrive at a better description and understanding of age-related change.... The following picture has emerged....
1. Individual differences in intellectual abilities are highly stable over the adult years (i.e. with seven-year interval stability coefficients greater than .90.
2. Between the ages of 57 and 63, most individuals begin to show significant decrements in intellectual performance.
3. Negative age trends in measures of perceptual speed seem to mediate most of the negative age trends in other cognitive abilities (Hertzog, 1989, Developmental Psychol.; Schaie, 1989, Dev. Psychol.)."
L.A.BAKER et al., 1993, in T.J.Bouchard, Jr., & P.Propping,
Twins as a Tool of Behavioral Genetics. Chichester : Wiley.

"[The Sway Weigh] looks like a pair of bathroom scales. It gives an objective measure of wobble when a patient tries to stand still. Dr Elizabeth Maylor gave [the elderly] mental tasks to perform which involved visualising grids, placing numbers in grids' squares, and remembering where the numbers are. While the 50-year-olds remained almost as steady while doing the tasks, the 70-year-olds' sway factor rose to 3.4. Tasks that did not involve spatial memory did not interfere with balance."
Aisling IRWIN, 1994, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 7 x.

"There are three major models of age developments in IQ (Dixon, Kramer & Baltes, 1985, in B.B.Wolman, Handbook of Intelligence). The classical cross-cultural studies of the 1950's and the 1960's show that average scores (e.g. on the WAIS - the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale) rise until about age 20 and then gradually decline throughout the adult years; verbal tests showed less (or no) decline.... (Botwinnick, 1977). Criticisms of cross-sectional studies brought the advent of longitudinal studies (Schaie, 1983), which generally showed much less evidence of decline. And finally we have the Horn and Cattell (1967, Acta Psychologica) theory which postulates a decline over age for fluid intelligence (usually measured by non-verbal tests), and a lack of decline, or even an increase, for crystallized ability (usually measured by verbal tests). My own preference would be for a variant on the Horn-Cattell theory, but the matter has not been definitely settled...."
H.J.EYSENCK, 1995, Genius: the Natural History of Creativity. Cambridge University Press.

(v) Ageism

"What is notoriously true in mathematics, theoretical physics, and music - that unless high talent is achieved very early in life, it never will be - is at bottom almost as true of other areas of the arts and sciences. The individual who has not begun his creating and achieving in his twenties at the latest is unlikely ever to commence anything of consequence....
Throughout the human past, the aged have been tolerated, at best, once their usefulness seemed ended or significantly decreased. Even within the ancient family system with its telescoping of the generations, conflicts could reach tragic proportions. Conflicts in the future can hardly be fewer when, in the absence of the old, extended family, youth and age are arrayed against each other as two great classes, each with distinctive interests, needs, aspirations and ideologies."
R.NISBET, 1982, Prejudices. Harvard University Press.

"Mr Naylor [a career counsellor] said [at a conference of the British Institute of Personnel Management] that [over 1986/7] more than two thirds of job advertisements [for senior managers] mentioning age were for those in the 30-40 age range. "The use of age in this way appears to be a peculiarity of the British," Mr Naylor said. "Top jobs in Germany are seldom filled by those under 40-plus. Age requirements cannot be advertised in the U.S., France or Canada, where there is legislation to prevent it."
Report by J.Spicer, 1987, The Times, 24 x.

"I am clear that we have to face up to a variable retiring age in an academic career because of the variable pace at which people age."
Sir Peter SWINNERTON-DYERS (Chairman of
the U.K. University Grants Council), 1988.

"In the year 2020, [argues Vernon Coleman, The Health Scandal,] medicine will have achieved the opposite of what nature intended: the survival of the sickest. By then, according to International Monetary Fund predictions, the British population will contain more handicapped, disabled and dependent people than healthy ones. Age will have become far more divisive than race, sex or class ever were in the 1980's. The healthy will be outnumbered by millions of sick and rickety citizens held together by the high-tech Elastoplast of modern medicine.... Coleman argues that [the ensuing] holocaust will occur because the minority of the population who are still healthy will resent this seemingly immortal but diseased majority draining away National Health Service resources on endless medical care."
Martin WEITZ, 1988, Sunday Times, 13 ii (G5).

"....all reports forecasting fewer young people should be welcomed, and there is no reason why that welcome should not be joined in by the existing young. The greatest pleasures of youth are derived - either directly, or in the form of books, arts and music - from contact with older people, except perhaps one (and even then, you never know)."
Frank JOHNSON, 1988, Sunday Telegraph, 23 x.

"People who were yesterday over the hill are today likely to be over the mountains and the sea on a long-haul holiday. Retirement, often feared as the beginning of the end, has suddenly become a golden age of opportunity.... [In the USA] "grey panthers" have been recognised as a powerful commercial force for a decade. Models aged 50-plus regularly appear on television selling beer and shampoo. The American Association of Retired Persons, with twenty million members, is a strong political lobby which succeeded in frustrating the Reagan administration's attempt to cut the social security budget."
J.LAURENCE & C.BLACKHURST, 1989, Sunday Times, 5 iii.

"After decades of believing that a boss was going over the hill at 40, and on the scrapheap at 50, big business is now doing a dramatic about-face. Suddenly, from 45 to 55 is becoming the right age to be if you aspire to a top job. Says IBM personnel director, Graham Miles,: "Nowadays many people of 50 are still fighting fit. And they've got the quality that no training can provide - experience.""
Irish Evening Press, 10 iv 1989.

"[In 1989] more than half of the hospital work-load in the acute sector involves people of aged 65 and over. But I did this type of calculation in 1981 and the same could have been said then. A sense of historical perspective is a great antidote to demographic hysteria.... The survival of so many people into old age is not a threat but a success story."
Dr David S. GORDON, 1989, letter to The Scotsman, 16 vi.

"[G.Kenny & P.Redlich, Facts on Ageing] achieve their goal of 'debunking myths' about the elderly by presenting the adverse effects of the ageing process such as sensory impairment, declining cognitive functioning, dementia and depression in a compassionate and non-pejorative manner.... To realize the authors' hopes of dispelling ageist attitudes, and increasing the participation of the elderly in the economic and social networks of our society, this book has been designed to inform the general reader about human ageing."
Mairead BOOHAN, 1990, Irish Journal of Psychology 11.

"....nothing is more threatened by age than sex, a fact that drove the elderly Yeats crazy. "Why," he asked, "should not old men be mad?" By mad he meant deranged by lust. The nasty, brutish and short answer is that old men should not be mad because they are not sexually desirable and because younger people do not like to think of older people having sex."
Bryan APPLEYARD, 1994, The Independent, c. ix.
(vi) Handy tips

"Old age is honoured on condition that it defends itself, maintains its rights, is subservient to no one, and to its last breath rules over its own domain."
CICERO, De Senectute.

"That part of ourself which we suppress in youth, for the achievement of some given ambition, will return many years later, knife in hand, determined to destroy its destroyer."

"From the middle life onwards, only he remains vitally alive who is already to die with life. For, in the secret hour of life's midday, the parabola is reversed, death is born. The second half of life does not signify ascent, unfolding, increase, or exuberance, but death - since the end is its goal. The negation of life's fulfilment is synonymous with the refusal to accept its ending. Both mean not wanting to live, and not wanting to live is identical with not wanting to die. Waxing and waning make one curve."
C.G.JUNG, The Soul and Death.

"I have just written a book on my life and am calling it 'Ninety Years Young'. I have had a most interesting life, chiefly because I have always taken an interest in everything and also in people. I am sure that helps to keep one young."
Mrs S.I.GOLDSMITH (age 93), 1981, in R.Rickets,
Bid the World Good-Night. London : Search Press.

"One of the snares [of old age], of course, is the feeling that so many of us have, that the body is doubtless old, but the mind is ever so young. That may lead to difficulties: it is most unlikely that one is genuinely thinking in the same terms as young people.... One is not quite as good at that foreign language as one thought one was. Above all, one tires."
Naomi MITCHISON, 1981, in R.Rickets,
Bid the World Good-Night. London : Search Press.

"Last year, at age 78, Jim Irwin received his PhD from Victoria University. As an extramural student, he took five years to complete his thesis. A series of strokes set him back but did not stop him. The first stroke destroyed the vision in one eye; another caused temporary loss of speech and left-side paralysis.... Scientists have found that factors which may help people to keep functioning well into old age include an above-average level of education, a complex and stimulating lifestyle, and being married to a smart spouse.... "Contrary to intuition and popular evidence, " says researcher Timothy Salthouse, "there is little evidence that declines in cognitive performance are mediated by declines in health."
The Listener (New Zealand), 28 i - 3 ii 1995.

"....Disgracefully Yours is one of the few books that asserts the right to a continued celebration of sexuality in [the post-menopausal] years, with or without a partner. [It argues] that to pleasure yourself sexually, as well as providing physical release, gives you a chance to connect with yourself on an intimate level."
Kay CARMICHAEL, 1995, The Scotsman, 14 ix.


"The most consistent failure of commonwealths has been to make no use of youth at all. Youth is a force which can be the life-spring of the state. If it is not employed it goes sour, or turns into channels of destructive revolution."
Edward HULTON, 1941, Picture Post, i.

"Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life."

"Through the character of King Lear....Shakespeare has allowed us valuable insight into some of the crucial unconscious processes of ageing: not only that ageing is experienced as a narcissistic injury, but that it contains the threat of helplessness, dependency, and loneliness, which is often defended against by a tyrannical control of the elderly person's world and his objects.... One hears all too often variations of Lear's "a poor, weak, infirm and despised old man" from one's colleagues when describing their elderly patients. This idealization contains the seeds of compassion. Unfortunately it also protects the clinician from ever confronting the complex mixture of strength and frailty which is at the heart of their patients' psychic dilemma and which needs to be understood for change to occur and peace of mind to be restored."
Noel HESS, 1987, 'King Lear and some anxieties of old age'.
British Journal of Medical Psychology.

"[Tolstoy died] surrounded by Tolstoyans who did not love him but admired and revered him; and by a few friends and members of his family-notably his wife-who loved him but found his conduct inexcusable and his attitudes intolerable. Goethe once said every old man is a King Lear, but none has been more like him than Tolstoy."
John BAYLEY, 1988, The Listener, 26 v. (Reviewing A.N.Wilson, Tolstoy.)

"[The Government has lately bumbled into discovering and admitting that] old people do not, and cannot, get all the treatment which might be of benefit to them. If they were to get such treatment, practically all other economic activity would have have to cease."
Dr Theodore DALRYMPLE, 1994, The Spectator, 23 iv.


{Compiled by C. R. Brand, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh}

For more coverage of ageing in relation to intelligence, see:
BRAND, C.R. (1996) The g Factor.
Chichester : Wiley DePublisher.

"The nature and measurement of intelligence is a political hot potato. But Brand in this extremely readable, wide-ranging and up-to-date
book is not afraid to slaughter the shibboleths of modern "educationalists". This short book provides a great deal for thought
and debate."
Professor Adrian Furnham, University College London.
The book was first issued, in February, but then withdrawn, in April, by the 'publisher' because it was deemed to have infringed modern canons of
'political correctness.'
It received a perfectly favourable review in Nature (May 2, 1996, p. 33).

For a Summary of the book, Newsletters concerning the
de-publication affair, details of how to see the book for scholarly purposes, and others' comments and reviews,
see the Internet URL sites:

For Chris Brand's 'Get Real About Race!'-his popular exposition of his views on race and education in the Black
hip-hop music magazine 'downlow' (Autumn, 1996)-see:

A reminder of what is available in other Sections of 'P, B & S.'
Summary Index

(This resource manual of quotations about individual and group differences, compiled by
Mr C. R. Brand, is kept on the Internet and in Edinburgh University Psychology Department Library.)
Pages of Introduction
3 - 11 Full Index, indicating key questions in each Section.
12 - 14 Preface. - Why quotations? - Explanations and apologies.
15 - 51 Introduction: Questions, Arguments and Agreements in the study of Personality.
Some history, and a discussion of 'realism vs 'idealism.'
52 - 57 Introductory Quotes about the study of personality.
General problems
1 'Situational' vs 'personological' approaches to human variation.
2 'Nomothetic' vs 'idiographic', 'subjective' and relativistic approaches.
3 Personality dimensions-by factor analysis and otherwise.
4 'Superstructure' and 'infrastructure.' - The 'mind/body problem'.
5 Nature versus Nurture? - Or Nature via Nurture?
6 The role of consciousness in personality and 'multiple personality'.
7 The 'folk psychology' of personality components.
8 The measurement of intelligence. - Does g exist?
9 The bases of intelligence. - What is the psychology of g?
10 The developmental origins of g differences. - The nature and nurture of g.
11 The importance of intelligence. - The psychotelics of g.
12 Piagetianism: Kant's last stand?
13 Cognitivism: 'The Emperor's New Mind?'
14 Neurosis, emotion and Neuroticism.
15 Psychosis, psychopathy and Psychoticism.
16 Crime and criminality.
17 Genius and creativity.
Popular proposals - psychoanalytic, phrenological and prophylactic
18 Psychoanalysis: 'Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire'?
19 Hemispherology: a twentieth-century phrenology?
20 Psycho-social Engineering: therapy, training or transformation?
Group differences
21 Age and ageing-especially, the role of g in 'life-span development'.
22 Psychological sex differences. - Do they exist? Must they exist?
23 Social class. - Does it matter any longer?
24 Racial and ethnic differences. - Their role in 'lifestyles' and cultural attainments.
Ideological issues
25 The psychology of politics and ideological extremism.
26 The politics of psychologists and allied co-workers.
27 Equality and Community: the 'utopian' package of political aims.
28 Freedom and Responsibility: the 'legitimist' package of political aims.
Pragmatic questions
29 Carry on differentializing?
30 Carry on psycho-testing?
Appendix: Factor Analysis. - 'Garbage in, garbage out'?


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