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Stimulus Intensity Modulation: A Perceptual-Cognitive Approach to Life Style in the Elderly

Baker, A. Harvey; Mishara, Brian L.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Cognitive Processes, Individual Differences, Kinesthetic Perception, Life Style, Older Adults, Responses


Gerontological research and theory have largely ignored individual differences and been remarkably unconcerned about the possibility that individuality in processes reflected in perceptual-cognitive style may mediate differences in important domains of attitudes and behaviors in the elderly. It was here hypothesized that various aspects of life-style (including engagement) reflect the postulated dimension of modulation (i.e., augmenting vs. reducing) of stimulus intensity. Using the Kinesthetic Aftereffects (KAE) task as the index of stimulus intensity modulation (SIM), a consistent pattern of significant relationships was found between KAE and varied aspects of life style, including the behaviors studied by Engagement Theorists. These findings support the formulation that in the elderly, SIM, as indexed by KAE, can predict individual differences in various aspects of life style. Implications for aging, and the construct of "engagement," are discussed. (32pp.)

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