Preparing for Long Life in the 21st Century


Program Highlights

  • Common predictors of how people will function at advanced ages.
  • Why motivation and memory change as people grow older.
  • Scientific breakthroughs that will improve the quality of life across generations.
We are approaching a watershed moment in human history. In just a few years, all developed countries will have, for the first time, more adults over the age of 60 than children under the age of 15. When our children reach an advanced age, living to 100 will be commonplace. Rather than perceiving this as good news, many people discuss the prospect of extended longevity in terms of coping with or halting the aging process. Yet to the extent that people arrive mentally sharp, physically fit, and financially secure, long-lived societies will thrive.
Leaders of organizations need to understand how cognitive processing, decision making, memory, and motivation change as they, their employees, and their customers age. Dr. Carstensen shares research findings on motivation grounded in the uniquely human perception of time horizons and the theory of “socioemotional selectivity,” in which our values and goals change over time. As time horizons are constrained, she found, we channel energies into what supports our emotional well being, affecting where we focus attention and what we remember.
Dr. Carstensen, author of A Long Bright Future, is Professor of Psychology and founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. For more than twenty years her research has been supported by the National Institute on Aging. She received her BS from the University of Rochester and her PhD in Clinical Psychology from West Virginia University.

Preparing for Long Life in the 21st Century

Laura Carstensen

Professor, Stanford University
Director, Stanford Center on Longevity


52 Minutes