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Geropsychology: The Field and

its Scope
-G. Satya
Geropsychology is the subfield in developmental psychology
which deals with the physical, cognitive and psychosocial
development in late adulthood or old age and seeks to remedy
mental disorders, anxiety, depression and other age related
illnesses that may have some psychological basis.
Geropsychology: how it emerged as a field?
Geropsychology is a relatively new field among the others in
developmental psychology. The research publications started
pouring in the post world war II era (because of increased
longevity of adults and the rising need to help them with agerelated problems). It was a very a slow emerging field in the 20 th
century, trailing behind child development by about 50 years.
Francis Galton, though he did not produce much further influence,
in his 1884 health exhibit found that slowness of reaction time
with age was associated with CNS rather than peripheral sensory
changes. Another contributing factor were the various schools of
thought such as behaviorism and psychoanalysis providing
explanations for personality of the aged as “product of early
rewards and punishments” and “early emotional experiences
structuring the predisposition” respectively.
A negative influence was the little exploration of Jean Piaget, the
Swiss psychologist who proposed the stages of cognitive
development which abruptly ended at adolescence. It was
concluded by him that further cognitive changes would not be
there. The Work of Kohlberg had a positive influence as it studied
progressive stages of moral development with age. Erik Erikson’s

S. G. The first organized attempt to study this age group was at Stanford University in 1927-32 by Walter Miles. The works of Baltes and his colleagues in 1980 resulted in a psychological model called “Selective optimization with compensation”. Other recent developments include studies of organization of behavior over the course of life from a gerontological perspective such as gerodynamics. After several other small positive influences. Birren was the first to study systematically the age-related slowing of behavior as a fundamental characteristic of aging. Recent developments in Geropsychology have seen a dramatic increase in research. The methods used in studies of aging are longitudinal studies and twin studies. ∴Substance abuse among older adults . Period and Cohort. Schaie(1986) proposed analysis of data into three components i.eight psychosocial stages of development provided another positive influence. a division was devoted to psychology of aging in American Psychological association by Sydney Pressey. almost as many articles and book s were published as in the entire pre-World War II period. APC-Age. is a large field with various specializations.e. in itself. 1969. He conducted interviews with older adults and found that there is a shift in attitudes towards death as age progresses which are still relevant such as assisted death and euthanasia. Hall provided little encouragement in the studies of old age. The scope of Geropsychology: Geropsychology. Riegel(1997) did a quantitative analysis of publications under the topic psychological gerontology. Thus in 1 year.

such as loss of independence. ∴Depression. ∴Older adults dealing with chronic physical illness/disease. References Geropsycholgist-Goropsychology http://psychologycareers.approaching death ∴Sleep Disorders ∴Socio-economic and multicultural demographics ∴How aging differenciates from one cohort to the next. relocation. such as arthritis. ∴Impact on caregivers ∴Spirituality and religion The process of aging is far more complex and requires information from various disciplines not merely from psychology (eg: genetics. anxiety. PTSD.∴Cognitive disorders. such as Alzheimer’s disease/dementia ∴Elderly individuals dealing with life transitions. ∴Support for individuals and their loved ones/caregivers. psychosis and other mental illnesses. physiology etc) and being a relatively new field requires a lot of further exploration. heart disease and . isolation (due to many peers having passed away). suicidal thoughts. epidemiology. not being able to work.