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This study tested the hypothesis that older adults retain high levels of everyday problem solving performance when confronting problems of maximal ecological relevance, identified through idiographic methods. Younger, middle-aged, and older adults completed a daily challenge questionnaire (DCQ) in which they reported problems of maximal personal relevance or idiographic problems. The large majority of the problems reported were interpersonal. We then assessed performance on an everyday problem-solving task in which participants generated solutions for idiographic problems as well as problems generated by group matched research participants representing each of two other age groups (e.g., older adults received their own problems plus problems generated by matched younger and middle-aged adults). Performance was measured by computing the total number of safe and effective solutions provided. Results fully supported our hypothesis; adults of all ages showed higher performance when solving their idiographic problems.


This work was originally published in Frontiers in Psychology, available at DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00276.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0).


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