Psychological age

Psychological age
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Methods and techniques

Psychological age is a subjective self perception of own age. In other words is how old someone feels, behaves and act. The psychological age do not have to be equal chronological age, which is age since birth.

For example, in many case people who be 70 years old feels himself like they be 40 years old, or even 20 years old. The difference between chronological age (calendar age) and the psychological age (age at which one feels) is crucial from the point of view of both building target groups for marketing and human resource management processes. In James E. Birren studies concept of psychological age is wider and holistic. In one hand he agrees that psychological age is correlated with biological and social age, but in the other hand psychological age is concept which include "use of adaptive capacities of memory, learning, intelligence, skills, feelings, motivations, and emotions for exercising behavioral control or self-regulation."[1].

Age concept of workers[edit]

To understand why psychological age is so important to indicate, we should take a wider look by five different approaches to conceptualize aging of workers presented by Sterns and Doverspike[2][3]:

  1. Chronological age refers to one’s calendar age. In this case, we distinguish between employees due to their calendar age. Although the term young employee and senior employee are very fluid, it is indicated that older employees can specify people even from the age of 40 to people over 75 years of age and older.
  2. Functional or performance-based age. The basis for determining this type of age is the employee's performance in the perspective of differentiating between different levels of ability to perform tasks and functioning at different ages. With the increase of the calendar age after reaching a certain ceiling, the motor, cognitive or psychophysical abilities of the employee start to decrease directly affecting its performance.
  3. Psychosocial or subjective age it is a subjective view of how old you are, what age group you are identifying with and how old you want to be. The social conditioning and perception of a given age is important here in terms of self-identification of one's own age. Depending on the attitudes and behaviors displayed, the employee can be assigned and classified in a given age category. The same relationship that he builds with other employees shows how old he wants to be taken and how many years he feels. In addition, social norms prevailing in a given group of employees and their perception of the moment when someone begins to be treated and behaves like an old person.
  4. Organizational age is the aging of people in the workplace through the angle of seniority and organizational workflow. It may also refer to the employee's career stage and the age standards prevailing in the organization.
  5. The life span concept of age has much in common in the above-presented approaches, drawing from the point of view of the age. What distinguishes this approach is the possibility of behavioral change in every moment of life. “This behavioral change may be affected by three sets of factors: normative, age-graded biological, and/or environmental determinants, which are strongly related to age; normative, history-graded influences, which are related to the age-cohort, and non-normative unique career and life changes. To capture the unique impact of the life span approach, life span age can best be measured by life stage or family status.”.

Measuring of age[edit]

When we think about measuring age first think about ask someone “How old are you?” or “What is the date of your birth?” but in case of different approaches of age, we can notice it is not enough. Of course, on the one hand, these questions must be asked, because the chronological age is an inseparable element of other age concepts, on the other hand, they are not enough. As the age grows, the variable of the calendar age may become less and less important. Significance, on the other hand, is gained by other approaches such as the approach to psychological age. This should be taken into account in marketing activities as well as human resource management.


  1. Birren J. E., Schroots J. J. F. (1988)
  2. Doverspike D., Sterns, H.L. (1989)
  3. Kooij D., Lange de A., Jansen P., Dikkers J. (2008)


Author: Gabriela Lupa