The Interface of Personality Processes and Cognitive Abilities: A Comparative Study of Elderly and Young Adults
Description: Although research has shown that the complex constructs of intelligence and personality are necessarily intertwined, studies exploring this issue in elderly individuals are rare. The importance attached to this interface in older adults becomes particularly clear in light of the debate over the cause and extent of age-related decrements in cognitive performance as well as whether such losses can be ameliorated or not, especially given societal shifts toward increased life expectancies. The present study explored the basis for shifts in personality-ability relationships in adulthood by comparing two samples of older adults, one of which was assessed in 1975 (N = 102, M age = 68.4), and the second of which was assessed in 1995 (N = 100, M age = 72.0), and a sample of younger adults (N = 100, M age = 21.8), also assessed in 1995. Each participant was administered the Holtzman Inkblot Technique and the Gf-Gc Sampler, a measure of crystallized (Gc) and fluid (Gf) abilities. LISREL analyses of both age-related and historical shifts in personality-ability relationships suggested that not only were such shifts associated with cohort differences as reflected in factor loading (lambda) differences between the older samples and the younger sample, as well as between each of the older samples, but also that such connections were weaker among younger adults. These findings are important in revealing that sociocultural shifts in opportunities for continued cognitive growth influence the impact of noncognitive (personality) factors on intellectual functioning in later life. Limitations of the current study, implications of the results, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Date: August 2000
Creator: O'Brien, Dina Paige Ragow