11/12/07 – "Grumpy Old Men No More"

San Francisco, CA – Dr. Laura Carstensen, described as “one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the social psychology of aging,” outlined today her groundbreaking research debunking negative stereotypes about the emotional health of older people. She was speaking at the 60th Annual GSA Scientific Meeting in San Francisco. Carstensen, who is the founding Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL), spoke about the broad emotional experience of older people, including what she has termed the “positivity effect”, which finds that people tend to get happier as they get older. Such emotional positivity can impact the overall quality of life of older people, including the cognitive abilities of attention and memory.

“If we rise to the challenge of an aging population by systematically applying science and technology to questions that improve quality of life in adulthood and old age, longer-lived populations will inspire breakthroughs in the social, physical, and biological sciences that will improve the quality of life at all ages,” said Carstensen.

Carstensen, was inspired to enter the field of psychology and to study aging after an extended stay in the hospital at 20 years old allowed her to observe first-hand the treatment and behavior of older people. She was the subject of a recent profile in Forbes magazine.

In 2006, Carstensen established the Stanford Center on Longevity with a mission to transform the culture of aging by combining scientific and technological discoveries with swift entrepreneurial action. The SCL links the top scholars in their fields with government, business and the media to focus on practical solutions for maintaining physical fitness, improving memory and thinking, and using technology to improve savings and health care.

Carstensen is now working on a wide range of projects designed to bring urgently needed change. Under her direction, the SCL is producing both a number of technological innovations and policy prescriptions related to issues of mobility, cognition and financial well being, but also how we are connected to each other and how we want to look.

To learn more about the Stanford Center on Longevity or Laura Carstensen, please visit the Center’s website at longevity.stanford.edu or contact Katie Merrill at 510 883-9780.