Stepping into old age: A dynamic perspective on age identity change in the transition from midlife to older adulthood

Bibiana María Armenta Gutiérrez

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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Getting older, and the identity transition that comes with it, can be a challenging experience but can also bring new opportunities. Amidst the ongoing global phenomenon of population aging, this dissertation examines processes that affect the well-being of adults who are stepping into old age. In particular, four studies examine how a new identity as an older adult is shaped and in turn shapes the well-being of adults between 50 to 70 years of age. The studies focus on two components of age identity: (1) How old adults subjectively feel, and (2) how identified or connected they feel with their age group. In general, results show that when facing a negative age-related experience, feeling younger may be beneficial while identifying with one’s age group may be detrimental for older adults’ well-being, at least in the short term.

The role that a new older-age identity plays can vary substantially between people. To better understand this variability, the present dissertation also advances an important predictor of identity formation: the perceived permeability of one’s group boundaries—i.e. to what extent people see a possibility to leave the group and join a different group. A tool to measure permeability of the group of older adults, as well as other social groups, is developed. The new measurement tool can be used to predict not only how much people identify with a particular social group, but also how much people are willing to engage in behaviors aimed at escaping from, or protecting that identity.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Scheibe, Susanne, Supervisor
  • van Yperen, Nico, Supervisor
  • Postmes, Tom, Supervisor
  • Stroebe, Katherine, Co-supervisor
Award date21-Jun-2018
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-0578-0
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-0577-3
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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