Dr. Corinna Loeckenhoff of the Center for Aging and Policy Studies (CAPS) and colleagues find rapid societal changes can leave us feeling more rushed and pressured for time – and older adults are no exception. The phenomenon known as “social acceleration” – in which economic growth and modernization increase the sense of time pressure – has mostly been studied in younger and middle-aged working adults.
But the new study by an international team of collaborators is the first to show similar effects among older adults long out of the workforce. For them, the researchers speculated, balancing leisure and volunteer engagements or pursuit of a “bucket list” might account for feeling greater time pressure compared with a generation ago.
“It is well documented that people tend to feel more rushed as societies move towards modernization, and changes in the workplace were thought to play a key role in raising the sense of time pressure,” Loeckenhoff said. “But we’re finding that older adults are feeling more rushed as well. This suggests other factors such as leisure activities and everyday social interactions contribute to these effects.”
Corinna E Löckenhoff, Johanna Drewelies, Sandra Duezel, Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen, et al, Sociohistorical Change in Urban Older Adults’ Perceived Speed of Time and Time Pressure, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2021;, gbab094, https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbab094.
Dr. Loeckenhoff’s research focuses on age differences in time horizons, personality, and emotional experience and their influence on mental and physical health across the life span. A central goal is to understand how age groups differ in their approach to health-related choices and to explore ways to optimize such choices across the life span. A second line of research examines life-long trajectories in people’s personality traits and social cognition and their relation to health-related behaviors and outcomes. Dr. Loeckenhoff is also interested in cross-cultural differences in aging trajectories.
Excerpted from Cornell Chronicle, “Modernization makes older adults feel rushed, too.”