Laura L. Carstensen

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Laura L. Carstensen is the Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor in Public Policy and professor of psychology at Stanford University, where she is founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity[1] and the principal investigator for the Stanford Life-span Development Laboratory.[2] Carstensen is best known in academia for socioemotional selectivity theory, which has illuminated developmental changes in social preferences, emotional experience and cognitive processing from early adulthood to advanced old age.[3] By examining postulates of socioemotional selectivity theory, Carstensen and her colleagues (most notably Mara Mather) identified and developed the conceptual basis of the positivity effect.[4]

Biography[edit]

Carstensen was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and spent most of her childhood in Rochester, New York. She graduated from the University of Rochester in 1978 and earned her Ph.D. in psychology from West Virginia University in 1983. She served as assistant professor of psychology at Indiana University from 1983-1987, and then joined Stanford University's department of psychology in 1987. In addition to her role as professor of psychology, she served as the Barbara D. Finberg director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research from 1997-2001 and chair of the psychology department from 2004-2006. With Thomas Rando, Carstensen founded the Stanford Center on Longevity in 2007, where she currently serves as its director.[1]

Carstensen is considered a thought leader on longevity. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times,[5] Time Magazine,[6] and The Boston Globe.[7] Her TED talk has been viewed more than a million times.[8] In 2011 she published A Long Bright Future: Happiness, Health and Financial Security in an Era of Increased Longevity.[9]

Selected awards and honors[edit]

Research contributions[edit]

Socioemotional selectivity theory[edit]

Carstensen originally formulated socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) in the early 1990s.[10] SST is a life-span theory of motivation which posits that people prioritize emotionally meaningful goals when time horizons are constrained. According to SST, people with expansive time horizons are more likely to prioritize exploration and expanding horizons, seeking out new relationships that promise long-term benefits. In contrast, as time horizons grow limited people prioritize emotionally meaningful goals that are more likely to result in feelings of emotional satisfaction.[3][11] Consequently, people with limited time horizons tend to have smaller, more carefully selected social networks and experience better emotional well-being.[12]

Positivity effect[edit]

Carstensen is responsible for identifying and developing the conceptual basis for the positivity effect, an age-related trend in cognitive processing that favors positive over negative information in attention and memory.[13] A meta-analysis of 100 empirical studies of the positivity effect found that this effect is larger in studies that include wider age comparisons and do not constrain cognitive processing.[14]

Future time perspective scale[edit]

The future time perspective (FTP) scale was developed by Carstensen and Frieder Lang.[15] The FTP scale includes ten items answered by indicating agreement on a 7-point Likert-type scale (from 1= very untrue, to 7 = very true).[16] The last three items of the future time perspective scale (#s 8-10) are reverse coded. When scoring the measure, researchers calculate the participant’s mean score. Prior research shows a linear relationship between chronological age and time horizons. The strength of the relationship varies as a function of the age range in the sample: nearly always, the relationship is positive, with high scores indicative of long time horizons.[11]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Carstensen, L. L.; Isaacowitz, D.; Charles, S. T. (1999). "Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity". American Psychologist. 54: 165–181. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.54.3.165. PMID 10199217.
  • Lang, F. R.; Carstensen, L. L. (2002). "Time counts: Future time perspective, goals and social relationships". Psychology and Aging. 17: 125–139. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.17.1.125. PMID 11931281.
  • Mather, M.; Carstensen, L. L. (2005). "Aging and motivated cognition: The positivity effect in attention and memory". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 9: 496–502. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2005.08.005. PMID 16154382.
  • Carstensen, L. L. (2006). "The influence of a sense of time on human development". Science. 312: 1913–1915. doi:10.1126/science.1127488. PMC 2790864. PMID 16809530.
  • Carstensen, L. L.; Turan, B.; Scheibe, S.; Ram, N.; Ersner-Hershfield, H.; Samanez-Larkin, G.; Brooks, K.; Nesselroad, J. R. (2011). "Emotional experience improves with age: Evidence based on over 10 years of experience sampling". Psychology and Aging. 26: 21–33. doi:10.1037/a0021285. PMC 3217179. PMID 20973600.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Laura Carstensen". Stanford Profiles. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  2. ^ "People". Stanford Life-span Development Lab. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b Carstensen, L. L.; Isaacowitz, D.; Charles, S. T. (1999). "Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity". American Psychologist. 54: 165–181. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.54.3.165. PMID 10199217.
  4. ^ Mather, M.; Carstensen, L. L. (2005). "Aging and motivated cognition: The positivity effect in attention and memory". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 9 (10): 496–502. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2005.08.005. PMID 16154382.
  5. ^ Carstensen, Laura L. (2 January 2001). "On the Brink of a Brand-New Old Age". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  6. ^ Carstensen, Laura L. (12 Feb 2015). "The new age of much older age". Time Magazine. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  7. ^ Carstensen, Laura L.; Rowe, John W. (20 June 2014). "Aging isn't the challenge; building an equitable society is". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  8. ^ "Laura Carstensen: Older people are happier". TED (conference). December 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  9. ^ Carstensen, Laura L. (2011). A Long Bright Future : Happiness, Health, and Financial Security in an Age of Increased Longevity (Rev. and updated. ed.). New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 9781610390576.
  10. ^ Carstensen, L. L. (1992). "Social and emotional patterns in adulthood: Support for socioemotional selectivity theory". Psychology and Aging. 7: 331–338. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.7.3.331. PMID 1388852.
  11. ^ a b Lang, F. R.; Carstensen, L. L. (2002). "Time counts: Future time perspective, goals and social relationships". Psychology and Aging. 17: 125–139. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.17.1.125. PMID 11931281.
  12. ^ English, T.; Carstensen, L. L. (2014). "Selective narrowing of social networks across adulthood is associated with improved emotional experience in daily life". International Journal of Behavioral Development. 38 (2): 195–202. doi:10.1177/0165025413515404. PMC 4045107. PMID 24910483.
  13. ^ Reed, A. E.; Carstensen, L. L. (2012). "The Theory Behind the Age-Related Positivity Effect". Frontiers in Psychology. 3: 1–9. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00339. PMC 3459016. PMID 23060825.
  14. ^ Reed, A. E.; Chan, L.; Mikels, J. A. (2014). "Meta-analysis of the age-related positivity effect: age differences in preferences for positive over negative information". Psychology and Aging. 29 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1037/a0035194. PMID 24660792.
  15. ^ Carstensen, L. L.; Lang, F. R. (1996). "Future Time Perspective Scale". Unpublished Manuscript.
  16. ^ Notthoff, N.; Carstensen, L. L. (2014). "Positive messaging promotes walking in older adults". Psychology and Aging. 29 (2): 329–341. doi:10.1037/a0036748. PMC 4069032. PMID 24956001.

External links[edit]