Declines in divergent thinking with age: cross-sectional, longitudinal, and cross-sequential analyses.

R. R. McCrae, D. Arenberg, Paul Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Six measures of divergent thinking were administered to 825 men ranging in age from 17 to 101 over the period from 1959 to 1972; repeat administrations were given to a subset of 278 men after a 6-year interval. Cross-sectional analyses showed curvilinear trends, with an increase in scores for men under 40 and a decline thereafter. Repeated measures analyses on subjects initially aged 33 to 74 generally replicated this finding, whereas cross-sequential analyses suggested a decline for all cohorts tested at a later time. Additional analyses suggested that not all of the decline could be attributed to reduced speed of response production. These longitudinal findings confirm earlier cross-sectional reports of decline in divergent thinking abilities with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1987
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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