Ph.D., Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, 2009
General Area of Research
Self and identity; social cognition and aging; developmental regulation
My work is informed by life span theories of developmental regulation and theories on social cognition. I am specifically interested in understanding how people develop across the life span and flexibly adapt to aging-related challenges. For example, I study how this adaptive capacity develops throughout the life span and in old age by focusing on the underlying processes that are related to psychological and physiological well-being.
In one line of research, I am interested in how age group representations (i.e., dual age identity: age group vs. generation) shape self-evaluation and self-interpretation. A basic assumption is that chronological age is a fundamental aspect of how people think and feel about others and themselves. One question guiding my research is: How can older adults maintain their self-esteem and functioning when faced with negative stereotypes about their age group? For example, experimental research including eye tracking and other implicit measures has shown that activating negative age stereotypes triggers older adults’ (1) distancing, (2) differentiation, and (3) shifting to alternative age identities (e.g., dual age identity).
In a second line of research, we have carried out several longitudinal studies and experiments addressing the interplay of individual differences (e.g., in the management of novel information and uncertainty) and beliefs and their functional role in managing important transitions across the lifespan. In another project, we addressed the psychological function of people’s anticipations of the future as the adjustment to potential loss in old age. More recently, we have investigated the causes and consequences of anticipating one’s own aging in young adulthood.
Weiss, D., Sassenberg, K., & Freund, A. M. (2013). When Feeling Different Pays Off: How Older Adults Can Counteract Negative Age-Related Information. Psychology and Aging, 28, 1140-6.
Weiss, D., Freund, A. M., & Wiese, B. S. (2012). Mastering developmental transitions in young and middle adulthood: The interplay of openness to experience and traditional gender ideology on women’s self-efficacy and well-being. Developmental Psychology, 48, 1774-84.
Weiss, D., & Lang, F. R. (2012a). “They” are old but “I” feel younger: Age-group dissociation as a self-protective strategy in old age. Psychology and Aging, 27, 153-63.
Weiss, D. & Lang, F. R. (2009). Thinking about my generation: Adaptive effects of a dual age identity in later adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 24, 729-734.