Views on ageing: a lifespan perspective

  • Anna E. KornadtEmail author
  • Eva-Marie Kessler
  • Susanne Wurm
  • Catherine E. Bowen
  • Martina Gabrian
  • Verena Klusmann


Views on ageing (VoA) have special relevance for the ageing process by influencing health, well-being, and longevity. Although VoA form early in life, so far, most research has concentrated on how VoA affect later middle-aged and older adults. In this theoretical article, we argue that a lifespan approach is needed in order to more fully understand the origins of VoA, how they change over ontogenetic time, and how they shape development across the full breadth of the lifespan. We begin by explicitly linking VoA to fundamental principles of lifespan development. We review existing theories of VoA and discuss their respective contributions and limitations. We then outline a lifespan approach to VoA that integrates existing theories and addresses some of their limitations. We elaborate on three core propositions of a lifespan approach to VoA: (1) VoA develop as the result of a dynamic, ongoing, and complex interaction between biological-evolutionary, psychological, and social-contextual factors; however, the relative importance of different sources changes across the lifespan; (2) VoA impact development across the whole lifespan; however, different outcomes, mechanisms, and time frames need to be considered in order to describe and understand their effects; and (3) VoA are multidimensional, multidirectional, and multifunctional throughout life, but their complexity, meaning, and adaptivity change across the lifespan. We conclude with recommendations for future lifespan research on VoA.


Views on ageing Lifespan development Age stereotypes Subjective ageing Self-perceptions of ageing 



This work is a result of the research network “Images of ageing: via a dynamic lifespan model to new perspectives for research and practice”, funded by a grant from the German Research Foundation (KL 3072/1-1) awarded to Verena Klusmann. The authors thank all members and guests of the network for the fruitful discussions that preceded this paper.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna E. Kornadt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eva-Marie Kessler
    • 2
  • Susanne Wurm
    • 3
  • Catherine E. Bowen
    • 4
  • Martina Gabrian
    • 5
  • Verena Klusmann
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Fakultät für Psychologie und Sportwissenschaft, Differentielle Psychologie und Psychologische DiagnostikBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, GeropsychologyMSB Medical School BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Institut für Community Medicine, Abt. für Sozialmedizin und PräventionUniversität GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  4. 4.Independent ResearcherViennaAustria
  5. 5.Independent ResearcherFrankfurt am MainGermany
  6. 6.Department of Psychology, Psychological Assessment and Health PsychologyUniversity of KonstanzConstanceGermany
  7. 7.Department of Psychology and Human Movement Science, Public HealthUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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