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Categorizing and Conceptualizing Styles in Younger and Older Adults

Kogan, Nathan
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Adults, Age Differences, Classification, Cognitive Style, College Students, Sex Differences


The classification behavior of male and female college students was compared with that of healthy well-educated older males and females. (Object-sorting and photo-sorting (male and female faces) procedures were employed. On measures of categorizing style--conceptual differentiation and compartmentalization--older adults were, respectively, lower and higher than college students. On measures of conceptualizing style--categorical-inferential, analyticdescri and relational thematic--younger adults exhibited stronger preferences for the first two, olderadults for the third. Females manifested higher levels of conceptual differentiation on object-sorting. Five content categories for sorting human faces were derived--physical, age, psychological, demographic, and referential. No systematic age or sex differences for sorting male photos was obtained. For female photos, however, younger adults were more likely to use physical attributes for grouping, males were more likely to group on the basis of age, and females more strongly favored demographically-based groupings. On the whole, the results failed to confirm other published evidence maintaining that aging is marked by conceptual deficits or a regressed mode of cognitive functioning. (24pp.)

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