Standard Article

Adult Intellectual Development

  1. K. Warner Schaie

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0020

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Schaie, K. W. 2010. Adult Intellectual Development. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Pennsylvania State University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Why do some individuals retain their behavioral competence well into advanced old age, whereas others show early decline? This question has long been a central topic in the psychology of adult development and aging. Five central questions and relevant research findings address this issue: (1) Does intelligence change uniformly through adulthood or are there different life-course ability patterns? (2) At what age is there a reliably detectable decrement in ability, and what is the magnitude of that decrement? (3) What are the patterns of generational differences, and what are their magnitudes? (4) What accounts for individual differences in age-related changes in adulthood; and (5) Can cognitive decline in old age be reversed?


  • adult age differences;
  • cognitive abilities;
  • cognitive interventions;
  • primary mental abilities;
  • vocabulary tests