Aging and life experience in adulthood. Research data.

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Baltes, Margret
Lang, Frieder


Dataset Information

Title Aging and life experience in adulthood. Research data.
Original Title Altern und Lebenserfahrung im Erwachsenenalter (ALLEE): Forschungsdaten
Citation Baltes, M., & Lang, F. (2012). Aging and life experience in adulthood. Research data. [Translated Title] (Version 1.0.0) [Data and Documentation]. Trier: Center for Research Data in Psychology: PsychData of the Leibniz Institute for Psychology ZPID.
Language of variable documentation German
Responsible for Data Collection Baltes, Margret M.; Lang, Frieder R.
Data Collection Completion Date 1999
Dataset Publication 2012
Dataset ID lgfr97al01
Study Description In this research project the empirical usefulness of the metamodel "Selektiven Optimierung mit Kompensation " (SOK; or selective optimization with compensation, SOC, Baltes, 1998; Baltes & Carstensen, 1999) was examined. It was analyzed whether the use of selection, optimization, and compensation is associated with an improved adaptability of the individual. A total of 480 adults aged 20-90 years (stratified by age and gender) took part in the investigation.
The SOC model posits that individuals use the strategies of selection, optimization, and compensation to adjust to age-related changes. The SOC model consists of 3 components (Baltes & Carstensen, 2003): Selection describes a goal-dependent constriction of life- or functional areas. Two forms of selection can be distinguished (Freund & Baltes, 2000): Elective selection refers to an arbitrary, self-regulated selection of goals or functional areas while loss-based selection is a selection of goals (functional areas) in response to internal or external circumstances. Optimization refers to the refinement and improvement of resources in selected areas of functioning. Compensation is generally regarded as a response to actual or anticipated losses, and refers to the use of new and alternative means of achieving a goal.

As part of the research project different survey methods were used, among them measures of psychological well-being, loneliness, social motives, life investment, affectivity, health, cognitive performance and social relationships. To assess the components of the SOC model a specially developed questionnaire was used and tested (Baltes et al., 1999). A good reliability and construct validity of the questionnaire was shown, proving it capable of capturing psychological adaptability across a wide range of ages. In addition, it was found that older adults used elective selection more frequently than young- and middle-aged adults while rarely using loss-based selection, optimization, and compensation. These age differences were related to resource availability: Healthy, cognitively high functioning, emotionally stable, and socially well-integrated adults with only limited resources at their disposal more often implemented loss-based selection strategies, optimization, and compensation as an adult.

The results of the research project are consistent with basic assumptions of the model of selective optimization with compensation for the area of general life management and regulation of social integration in adulthood. The findings show that beyond the effects on biological, psychological, and social resources, individuals can better cope with development-related challenges if they use components of the metamodel of selective optimization with compensation.
Hypotheses This project was based on the following research questions:
(1) In a heterogeneous sample of young, middle-aged and old adults, which test attributes does the Selective Optimization with Compensation Questionnaire have?
(2) Can age-related differences in the use of the SOK components be demonstrated? What is the association between the SOK components and indicators of subjective well-being?
(3) To what extent are the SOK components able to be empirically proved and specified within the context of the socio-emotional selectivity theory?
Keyphrase relationship between perceived control over development & subjective well-being across adulthood; total of 480 subjects aged 20-90 years; primary data
Funding German Research Foundation (DFG)
Rating Using the information available after initial telephone contact (sex, age, education, marital status, life satisfaction, subjective health), selectivity analyses were performed using the methods suggested by Lindenberger and colleagues (Lindenberger et al, 1996): Study participants were more educated and happier with their health than non-participants (Lüdtke, Tomasik & Lang, 2003). The effect of subjective health on participation was significantly stronger in old adults than young adults (Lüdtke, Tomasik & Lang, 2003). A comparison of the final sample with the initial sample yielded marginally significant differences, whose effect sizes stayed under a quarter standard deviation (d < .25). The effects are comparable to those reported by Lindenberger et al. (1996) for the Berlin Age Study (BASE). These authors come to the conclusion that this is “considering the size of sample drop out and the high mean age of the participants (…) a thoroughly satisfactory result.” Thus the effects point only to a marginal amount of selective sample drop out.
File Access Criteria

Data files and additional material that belong to access category 2indication of an academic email account and the intended use; agreement of the author(s) on the intended use within 28 days; additional restrictions may apply


PSYNDEX Classification and Controlled Terms

Classification Psychosocial & Personality Development
Controlled Terms Developmental Psychology
Age Differences
Well Being
Internal External Locus of Control
Life Satisfaction
Quality of Life
Socioeconomic Status
Social Support
Data Collection


Research Method Description

Research Method Description Questionnaire Data
Classification of Data Collection Combined Standardized Survey Instruments (Combination of various standardized sections)
Research Instrument In this project, various instruments were used, some of which had already been further developed and tested in the Berlin Age Study (cf. Baltes & Lang, 1997). Besides the telephone interview, 6 questionnaires were part of the actual survey. Each of the instruments are listed in the following, in the order in which they were presented to the participants. Each of the descriptions can be looked up in the corresponding literature.

Personal data: Demographic data, health status, life satisfaction, notable life event (Lüdtke, Tomasik & Lang, 2003).

Questionnaire A (self descriptions): German version of the Philadelphia Geriatric Morale Scale (PGCMS; cf. Lang & Heckhausen, 2001; Lawton, 1975; Smith & Baltes, 1996); Future Perspectives Scale (Carstensen & Lang, 1996; Lang & Carstensen, 2002); Social Motives Questionnaire (unpublished document); German version of the 8-Item Short Form of the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Smith & Baltes, 1996; Russell et al., 1984); German version of the RYFF Scale of Psychological Well-Being (cf. Ryff &Keyes, 1995); German version of the "Personal Control Inventory" from Pulkkinen & Rönkä (1994; Lang, 2000); German version of the "Big Five Inventory" (John, Donahue, & Kentle, 1991; Lang, Lüdtke & Asendorpf, 2001); Assessment of Life Investment (Staudinger et al., 1996; Staudinger & Fleeson, W., 1995); Positive Affect and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS; Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988; Smith & Baltes, 1996); Selective Optimization with Compensation Questionnaire (Baltes et al, 1999).

Questionnaire B: Cognitive performance was assessed using the three scales perception speed (digit symbol and digit letter), word flow (words with the initial letter “s” and “find words”) and general knowledge (cf. Lindenberger & Reischies, 1999).

Questionnaire C (health): German version of the SF-36 Health Survey (Bullinger, Kirchberger, & Ware, 1995); German version of the Symptom Checklist–90–R (SCL-90-R; Derogatis & Cleary, 1977); German version of the Center for Epidemologic Studies –Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977); Simple and Tandem Romberg Test (Steinhagen-Thiessen & Borchelt, 1996; cf. also Tinetti, 1986).

Questionnaire D (social relationships): Social Relationships Questionnaire (Kahn & Antonucci, 1980, Wagner, Schütze & Lang, 1996).

Questionnaire E: Card-laying technique for the assessment of social goals and partner preferences (Lang & Carstensen, 2002).

Questionnaire F: Yesterday Interview (Baltes et al., 1996).
Data Collection Method Data collection in the presence of an experimenter
- Individual Administration
- Paper and Pencil
Time Points single measurement
Survey Time Period 1996 to 1999
Characteristics -
Population Population of Berlin aged 20-90 years
Experimental Pool Individuals
Sample Stratified, systematic Sample
Subject Recruitment The participants’ addresses were acquired by means of probability sampling from the Berlin population register. 50 addresses were pulled out of each of the groups of men and women born between 1907 - 1926, 1932 - 1951 and 1957 - 1976. After a second randomization procedure, these addresses were listed in a random order. Of the 1531 young, middle-aged and old adults contacted using the randomized list, 1022 people (66.8 %) took part in a short telephone interview. Of these, 8 men and 8 women from each of the 60 years of birth were recruited for study participation. This strategy lead to oversampling, so that a total of 546 people took part in the study. Finally, to minimize possible sampling effects, only complete data from the first eight participants of each year of birth and sex group were included. This allowed the realization of a completely balanced design pertaining to year of birth and sex with N = 480 (31.4 %) participants (80 men and 80 women in each of the age groups: 20-40 years, 45-65 years and 70-90 years).

If participants weren’t mobile for personal reasons (e.g. child care, physical disability) they were either visited by an interviewer at home (N = 70) or brought by taxi (N = 82). All participants received 50.00 DM for their participation.
Sample Size 480 individuals
Return/Drop Out The 480 study participants correspond to 31.3 % of the total 1531 people contacted before the beginning of the study. Of these 1531 people, 1022 (66.8 %) took part in a short telephone interview at initial contact. Selectivity analyses show marginal effects of sample selectivity (d< 0,25). The study participants were more educated and happier with their health than non-participants (Lüdtke, Tomasik & Lang, 2003).
Gender Distribution 50% female subjects (n=240)
50% male subjects (n=240)
Age Distribution 20-40 years, 45-65 years and 70-90 years
Special Groups -
Country Germany
Region -
City Berlin
Variables Demographic data from the telephone interview (participation status, interview date, date and place of birth, educational status, professional status, marital status)
Health status
Life satisfaction
Notable life event in the past 12 months
Demographic data (marital status, children, living situation, professional status, income status)
Philadelphia Geriatric Morale Skala
Future Perspectives Scale
Social Motives Questionnaire
UCLA Loneliness Scale
RYFF Scale of Psychological Well-Being
Personal Control Inventory
Job satisfaction
Big Five Inventory
Assessment of Life Investment
Positive Affect and Negative Affect Scale
Selective Optimization with Compensation Questionnaire
Verbal Knowledge Test
Perceptual Speed Test
Short Form Health Survey
Symptom Checklist 90R
Center for Epidemologic Studies–Depression Scale
Received support
Negative social exchange
Satisfaction with social relationships
Social Relationships (pie chart method)


Data Status

Data Status Data Set Excerpt
Original Records Questionnaire filled out by either the subject or the experimenter containing closed and/or open answers.

Audio recordings

Other format, e.g. card-laying technique, observation protocols, ...
Transformation The original records were transferred into a data matrix via simple encoding rules.
The provided dataset lgfr97al01_fd1.txt contains the research data on personal data, Questionnaire A, Questionnaire C as well as Questionnaire B without the variables on general knowledge. In addition, it contains aggregated variables from Questionnaire D and other derived variables.
Furthermore, the provided dataset lgfr97al01_fd2.txt contains the research data from Questionnaire D.
The codebooks corresponding to the research datasets are provided.


Description of the Provided Data

Description Research data set
File Name lgfr97al01_fd1.txt
Data Content 480 subjects, 403 variables
Data Points 480*403=175680 data points
Variables Subject code (1item) Participation status (1 item) Gender (1 item) Demographic data from the telephone interview (16 items) Health status (1 item) Life satisfaction (1 item) Notable life event in the past 12 months (2 items) Demographic data (20 items) Philadelphia Geriatric Morale Skala (15 items) Future Perspectives Scale (10 items) Social Motives Questionnaire (18 items) UCLA loneliness Scale (8 items) RYFF Scale of Psychological Well-Being (18 items) Personal Control Inventory (18 items) Job satisfaction (1 item) Big Five Inventory (45 items) Assessment of Life Investment (10 items) Positive Affect and Negative Affect Scale (20 items) Selective Optimization with Compensation Questionnaire (47 items) Vocabulary (2 items) Verbal Knowledge Test (1 item) Perceptual Speed Test (2 item) Short Form Health Survey (35 items) Symptom Checklist 90R (12 items) Center for Epidemologic Studies–Depression Scale (20 items) Romberg-Test (7 items) Received support (9 items) Negative social exchange (3 items) Satisfaction with social relationships (3 items) Social Relationships (22 aggregate variables) Demographic data (15 derived variables)
MD5 Hash cf0de512f079647ec36ee59966c4a9e5
File Access Criteria access category 2indication of an academic email account and the intended use; agreement of the author(s) on the intended use within 28 days; additional restrictions may apply
Description Research data file of the social network
File Name lgfr97al01_fd2.txt
Data Content 5843 network partner, 16 variables
Data Points 5843*16=93488 data points
Variables Subject code (break variable) (1 item) Naming of network partners (order, circle, further named) (3 items) Demographic data on the network partner (age, sex) (2 items) Relationship to the network partner (1 item) Duration of the relationship (2 items, of these 1 derived variable) Survey year (1 item) Influence on/through the network partner (2 items) Advice/recognition/affection received from the network partner (3 items) Affection given to the network partner (1 item)
MD5 Hash 2b316e87d15be0057780a36023f4547f
File Access Criteria access category 2indication of an academic email account and the intended use; agreement of the author(s) on the intended use within 28 days; additional restrictions may apply


Description of Additional Materials

Description File Name
German codebook of the research data file lgfr97al01_fd1.txt lgfr97al01_kb1.txt
German codebook of the research data file lgfr97al01_fd2.txt lgfr97al01_kb2.txt


Publications Directly Related to the Dataset

Publications Directly Related to the Dataset
Lang, F. R., & Carstensen, L. L. (2002). Time counts: Future time perspective, goals and social relationships . Psychology and Aging , 17 , 125-139.Datensatz 0157113
Lang, F. R., & Heckhausen, J. (2001). Perceived control over development and subjective well-being: Differential benefits across adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 509–523. Datensatz 0149538
Lüdtke, O., Tomasik, M., & Lang, F. R. (2003). Teilnahmewahrscheinlichkeit und Stichprobenselektivität in altersvergleichenden Erhebungen. Zeitschrift für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie, 35 , 171-180.Datensatz 0163930


Utilized Test Methods

Utilized Test Methods
Baltes, M., Maas, I., Wilms, H.-U., & Borchelt, M. (1996). Alltagskompetenz im Alter: Theoretische Ueberlegungen und empirische Befunde. In K. U. Mayer & P. B. Baltes (Hrsg.), Die Berliner Altersstudie (S. 525-542). Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Datensatz 0108571
Baltes, P. B., Baltes, M. M., Freund, A. M., & Lang, F. (1999). The measurement of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) by self report: Technical report . Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung, Berlin: Materialien aus der Bildungsforschung Nr. 66.
Bullinger, M., Kirchberger, I., & Ware, J. (1995). Der deutsche SF-36 Health Survey. Zeitschrift für Gesundheitswissenschaft, 3, 21–36. Datensatz 0091610
Carstensen, L. L., & Lang, F. R. (1996). Future Orientation Scale. Unpublished manuscript, Stanford University.
Derogatis, L. R., & Cleary, P. A. (1977). Confirmation of the dimensional structure of the SCL-90: A study in construct validation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 33, 981–989.
John, O. P., Donahue, E. M., & Kentle, R. L. (1991). The "Big Five" Inventory - Versions 4a and 54 . University of California, Berkeley: Institute for Personality and Social Research.
Kahn, R.L., & Antonucci, T.C. (1980). Convoys over the life course: Attachment, roles, and social support. In P.B. Baltes & O.G. Brim (Eds.), Life-span development and behavior (pp. 254-283). New York: Academic Press.
Lang, F. R., Lüdtke, O. & Asendorpf, J. B. (2001). Testgüte und psychometrische Äquivalenz der deutschen Version des Big Five Inventory (BFI) bei jungen, mittelalten und alten Erwachsenen. Diagnostica, 47, 111–121. Datensatz 0148446
Lawton, M.P. (1975). The Philadelphia Geriatric Center Morale Scale: A revision. Journal of Gerontology, 30, 85-89.
Lindenberger, U. & Reischies, F. (1999). Limits and potentials of intellectual functioning in old age. In P. B. Baltes & K.U. Mayer (Eds.), The Berlin Aging Study (pp. 329–359). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Datensatz 0137248
Moss, M. & Lawton, M.P. (1982). Time budgets of older people: A window on four lifestyles. Journal of Gerontology, 37, 576-582.
Pulkkinen, L. & Rönkä, A. (1994). Personal contol over development, identity formation, and future orientation as components of life orientation: A developmental approach. Developmental Psychology, 30 , 260-271.
Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement,1, 385–401.
Russell, D., Cutrona, C.E., Rose, J., Yurko, K. (1984). Social and emotional loneliness: An examination of Weiss´typology of loneliness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 1313-1321.
Ryff, C.D. & Keyes, C.L.M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719-727.
Smith, J., & Baltes, P. B. (1996). Altern aus psychologischer Perspektive: Trends und Profile im hohen Alter. In K. U. Mayer & P. B. Baltes (Hrsg.), Die Berliner Altersstudie (S. 221-250). Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Datensatz 0108563
Smith, J., Fleeson, W., Geiselmann, B., Settersten, R., & Kunzmann, U. (1996).Wohlbefinden im hohen Alter: Vorhersagen aufgrund objektiver Lebensbedingungen und subjektiver Bewertung. In K. U. Mayer & P. B. Baltes (Hrsg.), Die Berliner Altersstudie (S. 497-523). Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Datensatz 0108570
Staudinger, U.-M., Freund, A.-M., Linden, M., & Maas, I. (1996). Selbst, Persönlichkeit und Lebensgestaltung im Alter: Psychologische Widerstandsfähigkeit und Vulnerabilität. In K. U. Mayer & P. B. Baltes (Hrsg.), Die Berliner Altersstudie (S. 321-350). Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Datensatz 0108565
Staudinger, U.M., & Fleeson, W. (1995). Life investment in a sample of 20 to 105 year olds. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung, Berlin.
Steinhagen-Thiessen, E., & Borchelt, M. (1996). Morbidität, Medikation und Funktionalität im Alter. In K. U. Mayer & P. B. Baltes (Hrsg.), Die Berliner Altersstudie (S. 151-183). Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Datensatz 0108561
Tinettti, M.E. (1986). A performance-oriented assessment of mobility problems in elderly patients. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 34, 119-126.
Wagner, M., Schütze, Y., & Lang, F.-R.(1996). Soziale Beziehungen alter Menschen. In K. U. Mayer & P. B. Baltes (Hrsg.), Die Berliner Altersstudie (S. 301-319). Berlin: Akademie Verlag.Datensatz 0108564
Watson, D., Clark, L.A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and Validation of Brief Measures of Positive and Negative Affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063-1070.


Further Reading

Further Reading
Baltes, M. M. (1998). The psychology of the oldest-old: The fourth age. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 11, 411-415.Datensatz 0125211
Baltes, M. M., & Carstensen, L. L. (1999). Social psychological theories and their application to aging: From individual to collective social psychology. In V. L. Bengtson & K. W. Schaie (Eds.), Handbook of theories of aging (pp. 209-226). New York: Springer.
Baltes, M. M., & Lang, F. R. (1997). Everday functioning and successful aging: The impact of resources. Psychology and Aging, 12 , 433-443.
Baltes, M.M., & Carstensen, L. L. (2003). The process of successful aging: Selection, optimization, and compensation. In U. M. Staudinger & U. Lindenberger (Eds.), Understanding human development:Dialogues with lifespan psychology (pp. 81-104). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Datensatz 0168730
Carstensen, L. L. (1993). Motivation for social contact across the life span. A theory of socioemotional selectivity. In J. Jacobs (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation: Developmental perspectives on motivation (Vol. 40, pp. 209-254). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Carstensen, L. L., Isaacowitz, D. M., & Charles, S. T. (1999). Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity. American Psychologist, 54, 165-181.
Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2002). Life-management strategies of selection, optimization, and compensation: Measurement by self-report and construct validity . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(4), 642-662.Datensatz 0153255
Heckhausen, J., & Schulz, R. (1995). A life span theory of control. Psychological Review, 102, 284-302.Datensatz 0095580
Lang, F. R. (2000). Endings and continuity of social relationships: Maximizing intrinsic benefits within personal networks when feeling near to death? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17, 157-184.Datensatz 0142260
Lang, F. R., & Baltes, M. M. (1997-a). Being with people and being alone in late life: Costs and benefits for everyday functioning. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 21 , 729-746.Datensatz 0117499
Lang, F. R., & Baltes, M. M. (1997-b). Brauchen alte Menschen junge Menschen? Überlegungen zu den Entwicklungsaufgaben im hohen Lebensalter. In L. Krappmann & A. Lepenies (Hrsg.), Alt und Jung: Spannung und Solidarität zwischen den Generationen (S. 161-184). Frankfurt/M.: Campus.Datensatz 0121959
Lang, F. R., & Carstensen, L. L. (1998). Social relationships and adaptation in late life. In A. S. Bellack & M. Hersen (Eds.), Comprehensive Clinical Psycholog y (Vol. 7, pp. 55-72). Oxford: Pergamon.
Lang, F. R., Rieckmann, N., & Baltes, M. M. (2002). Adapting to aging losses: Do resources facilitate strategies of selection, compensation, and optimization in everyday functioning? Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 57B(6), 501-509.Datensatz 0160227
Lang, F. R., Staudinger, U. M., & Carstensen, L. L. (1998). Perspectives on socioemotional selectivity in late life: How personality and social context do (and do not) make a difference Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 53B, P21-P30.Datensatz 0119446
Lindenberger, U., Gilberg, R., Pötter, U., Little, T., & Baltes, P. B. (1996). Stichprobenselektivität und Generalisierbarkeit der Ergebnisse der Berliner Altersstudie. In K. U. Mayer & P. B. Baltes (Hrsg.), Die Berliner Altersstudie (S. 85-108). Berlin: Akademie Verlag.Datensatz 0105004


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