The research of Thomas E. Barry, vice president for executive affairs at SMU and professor of marketing in the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Oct. 14 feature story “Marketers target people’s mind-set, not age” by journalist Teresa F. Lindeman explores the concept “you’re as old as you feel.”
Barry and a colleague studied college-educated Japanese 55 years old and above and found those who were psychologically younger had more positive attitudes toward life satisfaction and aging than those whose “cognitive ages” were older.
By Teresa F. Lindeman
A hot red Chevy pulls up to a house, and a graying man climbs out. He knocks on the door, only to be greeted by a suspicious younger man. A white-haired woman, the younger guy’s mother, comes out smiling eagerly, and the couple rush to the car. For just a moment there’s a glimpse of them as attractive, young adults. “Just drive,” she urges her date.
The TV commercial illustrates the marketer’s challenge in a country packed with maturing adults. Just because people look one way on the outside — or their driver’s license says they’ve passed the half-century mark — that may not be how they see themselves.
Not to be trite, but “you’re as old as you feel,” according to Thomas E. Barry, vice president for executive affairs and professor of marketing at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
He’s got the research to back that up.
Mr. Barry and a colleague from Florida Gulf Coast University studied college-educated Japanese 55 years old and above. They found those who were psychologically younger had more positive attitudes toward life satisfaction and aging than those whose “cognitive ages” were older.
Four factors went into determining a person’s cognitive age: health and how people feel; what chronological age they look; how engaged they are socially; and their interests and hobbies.
“Because somebody is 65 doesn’t mean you market to them as if they are,” Mr. Barry said. “They may cognitively be 50 or 55.”
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