Social and Emotional Aging

Posted: 4 Jun 2010

See all articles by Susan T. Charles

Susan T. Charles

University of California, Irvine

Laura L. Carstensen

Stanford University - Stanford Center on Longevity

Date Written: January 2010


The past several decades have witnessed unidimensional decline models of aging give way to life-span developmental models that consider how specific processes and strategies facilitate adaptive aging. In part, this shift was provoked by the stark contrast between findings that clearly demonstrate decreased biological, physiological, and cognitive capacity and those suggesting that people are generally satisfied in old age and experience relatively high levels of emotional well-being. In recent years, this supposed paradox of aging has been reconciled through careful theoretical analysis and empirical investigation. Viewing aging as adaptation sheds light on resilience, well-being, and emotional distress across adulthood.

Suggested Citation

Charles, Susan T. and Carstensen, Laura L., Social and Emotional Aging (January 2010). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 61, pp. 383-409, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Susan T. Charles (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Laura L. Carstensen

Stanford University - Stanford Center on Longevity

Stanford University
579 Serra Mall (Serra at Galvez) - Landau Building
Stanford, CA 94305-6053
United States

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