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Subjective age perceptions in the UK: An empirical study

Lynn Sudbury (School of Management, Liverpool John Moores University)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



The number of years a person has lived is a poor indicator of their self‐perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. For these reasons, gerontologists have looked to alternative measures of age, including self‐perceived or subjective age. While American researchers have built up a body of knowledge pertaining to self‐perceived age for more than half a century, little is known about the concept in the UK. This paper presents the findings of an empirical study into the self‐perceived age of a group of UK citizens (n = 356) aged 50‐79 (mean age 60.2 years). Using the cognitive age scale, respondents were asked how old they perceived themselves to be on the dimensions of feel, look, act and interests. Overall, respondents indicated a self‐perceived age of more than 10 years younger than their chronological age. These results suggest that the phenomenon is at least as extensive as in the US, where it is frequently argued that youth is valued over age. Policy and practice implications are discussed.



Sudbury, L. (2004), "Subjective age perceptions in the UK: An empirical study", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 4-13.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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