What midlife crisis? New study shows happiness increases into midlife! #science

galambos

A new study published in Developmental Psychology suggests that the idea of midlife crisis may be a myth. The research shows that happiness from 20s-40s actually increases when you follow individuals over time in a longitudinal manner. Check out a news summary here. a video summary and interview here, and a fun clip from the Today Show here!! How does that compare and fit in with past research suggesting happiness declines at midlife?

Lead researcher and psychology professor Nancy Galambos says she found the opposite – that people in her study were happier in their early 40s than when they were in their late teens and early 20s.

“I think it’s because life is more difficult for younger people than for people in middle age,” Galambos explains.

She says some young adults are depressed, have trouble finding work and sorting out their lives.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty. But by middle age, a lot of people have worked that out and are quite satisfied through the earliest child-bearing years.”

Galambos says most studies looked at a groups of people of various ages. She says the U of A study surveyed the same people – 1,500 of them – over many years, and is more reliable.

Congrats and shoutout to lead researcher Dr. Nancy Galambos for the nice media attention – she also happens to be my Aunt!!! My own experience couldn’t agree more with this research – aside from being an underpaid research, my happiness definitely increased as I aged through my 20s.

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Nature articles highlight new study examining researcher’s age, creativity, and innovation! #science

This week’s edition of Nature has two articles, an editorial and a news piece, about the researcher age, creativity, and innovation! Both pieces are based on a new study by Mikko Packalen and Jay Bhattacharya published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, “AGE AND THE TRYING OUT OF NEW IDEAS.”

…analysis of some 20 million biomedical papers published over the past 70 years suggests that younger researchers are more likely than older researchers to be working on innovative topics. Out with the old? Not so fast: if you are good enough then you are old enough, certainly. But the latest analysis also suggests that the most productive groups teamed a young researcher with an old(er) hand. There is an age-old problem here, but it is not necessarily old age.

While the study, and the methods it utilizes, are certainly interesting and seem to confirm an ageist dogma, they are perhaps not completely representative of reality. The analysis is based on some assumptions of scientists’ age, as well as how ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ are defined and calculated.

The method could not measure researchers’ creativity, only their willingness to embrace new ideas, which might have been proposed by others. But it showed that except for the newest scientists, young researchers far outpaced older scientists in citing new ideas in their papers, Packalen and Bhattacharya found (see ‘Cooling down’). Because the two had no way of measuring the actual age of a researcher, they calculated ‘career ages’ — the number of years after a scientist’s first publication.

Nonetheless, the study brings forward the interesting and timely discussion of aging scientists, as a number of countries are considering changing the way they deal with older researchers (pointed out in the editorial).