PDA

View Full Version : Are we all doomed to be "set in our ways" when we get older?


Lilliphe
06-10-2004, 07:01 PM
I'm not sure if this is the right forum but here goes.

Reading a recent thread over in IMHO about wether you should tell an elderly family member about your (differing) religious beliefs. Many of the responses were along the lines of "you should spare the elderly person, their set in their ways".

And that's what I always hear, and have experienced for myself. Older people tend to be stubborn, unwilling to listen to new ideas and unable to comprehend the change that occurs in society.

But I always thought this was a product of their generation, more than anything else.

So my question is: Is there actually a mental process that, while you age, changes the way you think?

Am I doomed to an old age of: "Humbug! Gothic music is all I will listen to! That's NOT how you make a pizza! Terminator 20 BAh! Brad Pitt is a good actor, those new actors can;t hold a candle to him!"

Or is this just a generalization? Are there a lot of open minded old people, and I'm just not meeting them?

robcaro
06-10-2004, 07:04 PM
My wife is 20 years younger than I. That gives me good reason to be flexible in my ways. I am certainly not set in my ways and I am now 75.

J String
06-10-2004, 07:11 PM
Who you you callin' old? I'm in my mid 30s and already I'm kinda "set in my ways."

;)

bizzwire
06-10-2004, 07:21 PM
I'm not sure if this is the right forum but here goes.

And that's what I always hear, and have experienced for myself. Older people tend to be stubborn, unwilling to listen to new ideas and unable to comprehend the change that occurs in society.

But I always thought this was a product of their generation, more than anything else.

So my question is: Is there actually a mental process that, while you age, changes the way you think?

Or is this just a generalization? Are there a lot of open minded old people, and I'm just not meeting them?

All of the above. Many people, I think are pretty much set in their ways by their mid-20's. As far as the old farts (I'm not there yet, but I can see it from here), some are set in their ways from inertia, stubborness or sheer laziness.

However, as you get older, you gain experience, and you start to see patterns emerge. Example: Eight-track tapes. They were the cutting edge of technology when I was younger (remember "quadraphonics?" ). They actually sucked, but that didn't stop a LOT of people from buying them. Anyway, after a couple of cycles of this, it's only natural to become hesitant to immediately buy into anyone's claims about the "latest and greatest" (Insert product, music, movie, technology, car, etc here), Especially since time and again, the biggest boosters inevitably turn out to have some kind of vested financial interest.

After enough cycles, you tend to realize that substance is inversely proportional to style. Case in point: Ray Charles. 50 years of the same act, yet it's still great music. Do you think anyone will be listening to 50 Cent in 2054?

So, long answer short, I think a lot of it is "been there, done that."

Dignan
06-10-2004, 08:07 PM
I had a behavior class that covered this topic. I'm sorry that I don't have a cite other than what I can remember. The professor said that research has shown that people's personalities are pretty much set by the time they reach their 30's. Life altering events can cause a shift in the personality, but in most cases, it's still only a change for a short period of time (couple of months) before the person reverts back to his/her old self.

stockton
06-10-2004, 10:47 PM
Case in point: Ray Charles. 50 years of the same act, yet it's still great music. Do you think anyone will be listening to 50 Cent in 2054?

So, long answer short, I think a lot of it is "been there, done that."

Um... I hate to be the bearer of bad news...

Have you seen the news today?

Johanna
06-10-2004, 11:31 PM
Jack has finally hit the road. :( Farewell, Ray, the true voice of America.

About the OP: No, I don't believe that just because most people get set in their ways, that you are necessarily predetermined to become stuck that way. It's your choice. Maybe most people don't reflect that they have a choice how to shape their own minds. I think research into the nature of consciousness and our own personal autonomy in shaping our own consciousness has expanded greatly in the past 50 years, starting with research into psychedelics and methods like meditation and yoga. I think more people understand nowadays that they can keep learning new things no matter how old they get, and that life is more interesting and fun to keep your brain active your whole life long.

I'm 44 years old now, and just in this past year I have taken up several new activities and fields of study. I keep learning new languages, new musical instruments, new rhythms, new dances, new meditation methods, new techniques to make art, new gardening skills, you name it. I am just now learning how to paint pictures, and hope to keep on painting for the rest of my life.

Especially now that research has revealed one way to stave off Alzheimer's disease is to keep your brain active, learning new things, playing chess, playing music, not just being a couch potato in front of the TV. Life keeps revealing new fascinating wonders all the time. You could keep your brain busy and active just keeping up with the latest scientific discoveries, which keep being discovered at an ever-increasing rate. There are so many amazing things in life to be involved in and to think about, I don't know how anyone could ever be bored or become mentally dull. Think of all the books we would love to read if only we had the time. I would have to live to be over 100 to find the time to do all the new things I want to do.

It's your own choice what you want to do with your brain.

sunstone
06-10-2004, 11:33 PM
"Being set in my ways" applies to some areas of my life...I still prefer music that has lyrics that are understandable to me. I don't like Rap for a number of reasons. But I'm learning about digital photography, and have been on a low fat diet for a while....this from a person who was raised on fried foods, and used a completely manual 38mm camera for years. I'm still with the same lady after 44 years, but still check out all of the beautiful women I see every day. I try new recipes on a normal basis, having started cooking about 10 years ago.

So some things remain the same, and others change...I pretty much take my choice of what to keep the same, and what to change.

No, brains don't have to solidify with age....and from what I've seen, some folks are pretty inflexible from the git-go, while others are free-wheelers all of their lives. Just part of the human condition.

David Simmons
06-10-2004, 11:39 PM
We sure do and the reason is that our ways are right. Your hear me you wippershappers? RIGHT!

David Simmons
06-10-2004, 11:40 PM
And that includes our spelling of whippersnappers. As someone said (maybe Mr. Dooley). "It's a mighty poor mind that can't think of more than one way to spell a word."

bizzwire
06-11-2004, 07:23 AM
Um... I hate to be the bearer of bad news...

Have you seen the news today?


Yeah.....that's why he was on my mind.....sigh

scm1001
06-11-2004, 07:49 AM
I find more and more older people are becoming more open minded. In a way it may be goimg too far, with many parents and grandparents listening to the same stuff, and wearing the same clothes, playing the same computer games as their kids.

It is probably getting harder and harder for the kids to shock their parents

Johanna
06-11-2004, 08:06 AM
Wanna bet?

"Mommy, Daddy, I want a clitoral piercing!" :smack:

scm1001
06-11-2004, 08:24 AM
wouldn't shock me. Not making their beds - now that gets my goat

BJMoose
06-11-2004, 10:50 AM
Here's a thought: maybe the reason we get "set in our ways" is purely pragmatic. Once we figure out the "best" way to do something, we adopt this method and routinely use it. No sense reinventing the wheel every week.

(This applies to everything, not just methodologies - after a period of discovery, we settle on what we think is the best dessert, or the best Renaissance composer, or the most "correct" political party, or the most comfortable make of underwear. What would concern me is if someone made it to age 80 without ever deciding whether or not he likes sauerkraut.)

This seems to fit my own experience. On things I've had to deal with several times before, I usually have a definite opinion. But when something new comes along, I can - and must - be opened minded about it (until I figure it out).




[Me? I'm aged 48 years, 10 months, 2 days.]

kunilou
06-11-2004, 04:20 PM
I noticed with my parents and parents in law that it became much easier for them to physically have a routine. They would vacuum the rooms in the house in the same order every time, do their housework at a set time, so they could finish in time to do some other thing, have coffee at a set time in the evening because doing it any later would keep them awake, etc.

My father-in-law is 80. His mind is sharp, his memory is excellent, but he's very hard of hearing and his knees are so bad it's difficult for him to navigate stairs.

It seems reasonable that as your physical abilities decline, you'll have to accomodate your body by doing things a certain way. From there it's just a short step to thinking in a certain way.

ParentalAdvisory
06-11-2004, 06:36 PM
Do you think anyone will be listening to 50 Cent in 2054?


I'll be bumpin' it.

Zoe
06-12-2004, 01:44 AM
Older people tend to be stubborn, unwilling to listen to new ideas and unable to comprehend the change that occurs in society.

You have just described some seventeen year olds that I know too. ;)

I think that one reason that I have some difficulty comprehending some changes in society is that now that I'm older, time moves very quickly for me. I can't keep up with the changes. It's not that I necessarily disapprove.

My interests have expanded through the years. I tend to add on rather than drop.

As strange as it may seem, the younger generation around here seems to be discovering the music of my generation -- Simon and Garfunkle, Led Zepplin, the Doors. What does your generation have that compares -- or can you tell yet?

burundi
06-12-2004, 11:01 AM
Originally posted by Zoe
As strange as it may seem, the younger generation around here seems to be discovering the music of my generation -- Simon and Garfunkle, Led Zepplin, the Doors. What does your generation have that compares -- or can you tell yet?

Hell, I like Glenn Miller, and he's a generation before yours. There was plenty of crap music in the 1960s that people don't listen to today. There will always be a few classics produced by every generation. I'm sure that 40 years from now, there will be some musical groups from the '00s that are still popular. It's just too early to predict yet what they'll be.

pesch
06-12-2004, 05:42 PM
I would also question about that "set in our ways" survey. Wouldn't that mean that people who were open to new experiences in their 20s would be set in their ways, and hence still open to experiences in their 60s? At least, that's my story.

Chairman Pow
06-12-2004, 08:33 PM
I had an English teacher in high school who always harped on some statistic he read that said the way the brain was formatted was that after about 25 something-or-other happens that makes learning grossly new skills difficult (that is, something that's radically different than what you're used to, like learning to play a musical instrument, take up martial arts, learn a language, etc.). I have neither found anything to support or contradict this, but perhaps someone else here knows.

Johanna
06-14-2004, 10:07 AM
The Neanderthal people had bigger brains than modern humans. What did they use all that extra brain for? They sure didn't use it to invent new ideas. Talk about being "set in your ways": The Neanderthals kept the same static culture for about 100,000 years and it does not seem to have invented anything new in all that time.

When I look at my teenage kids, I feel sorry for their lack of depth, their lack of connection to any enduring culture. All they seem to care about is the latest rap videos and cartoons on TV. They insist on keeping their culture as superficial as possible, and when I try to introduce them to more lasting art, music, or literature, they react with impatient boredom.

Neither the Neanderthals nor the video-addled teenagers could contribute much to culture, each in their opposite extreme. What we need for richness and depth of culture is the two combined: conservatism and innovation. Neither one alone is sufficient. In Renaissance Florence, they understood this. The best symbol to express this idea was used by the Aldine Press (http://users.design.ucla.edu/~cariesta/designhistory/renaiss/aldanchor.gif). In this symbolism, knowledge is an ocean. The dolphin is able to surge and leap ahead rapidly through the ocean, while the anchor holds your position steady. This is the key to valuable learning: be able to make new knowledge, while not losing the old.

Modern chaos theory has demonstrated what Aldus Manutius in 15th-century Florence understood. When a system is totally static, nothing can happen. When the state is totally in flux, nothing can take hold. The really interesting new configurations take place along the boundary between fixity and chaos.

Scarf-Ace
06-14-2004, 11:12 AM
Are we all doomed to be "set in our ways" when we get older?


To a point, but then we regress into increasingly juvenile behaviour until madness or sickness overtakes us. Or maybe its just my family...

smootman
06-14-2004, 11:20 AM
My dad has always told me that I have up until the age that Jesus died to shape my personality and my "quirks", I suppose... So his theory is that at the age of 33, the way you are is the way you'll always be...

David Simmons
06-14-2004, 11:30 AM
To a point, but then we regress into increasingly juvenile behaviour until madness or sickness overtakes us. Or maybe its just my family...

Nope, it's not just you. That's the route all right. It's all part of God's marvelous plan.

Exapno Mapcase
06-14-2004, 12:02 PM
All pre-industrial societies put a premium on elders, because in societies where the rate of change is very slow having accumulated wisdom about the way the world works can be life-saving.

In societies where the rate is change is very quick, being older is actually a disadvantage. What they thought they knew and understood about the world is likely to not be correct.

The question then becomes whether being reliant on an understanding of the world gained over time is merely cultural or a basic part of the way humans are built.

My guess is that it is heavily genetic. Humans, like all other animals, evolved in a world in which change was slow and accumulated wisdom about conditions helped one to survive to the old age in the first place. It's hard to imagine how this could not be selected for. (It's also an underlying point behind Gould and Eldridge's punctuated equilibrium theory, in which sudden environmental change forces species changes. Successful adaptation to conditions is a disadvantage when conditions change suddenly.)

Major societal changes in one human lifetime is so recent a phenomena that nobody really understands it. And humans aren't prepared for it. It will just get worse, too. Imagine how out of date you young'uns will be in the world of 2054.

And that brings me to a minor peeve that I want to rant about. Immortals vampires are always depicted as being really cool, hip, with it, even in advance of the rest of the culture. Nonsense. If you think your grandparents aren't cool and are totally out of touch, a 500-year-old vampire would be a walking anachronism, going around muttering about why baths aren't necessary and what ever happened to good words like wouldst and couldst.

Johanna
06-14-2004, 08:09 PM
Two Languages Better Than One to Keep Mind Young (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=571&e=19&u=/nm/20040614/hl_nm/health_bilingual_dc_1)


Older adults who grew up bilingual had quicker minds when tested than people who spoke only one language, the researchers found. They showed less of the natural decline associated with aging.

The tests of people who grew up speaking English and either Tamil or French suggested that having to juggle two languages keeps the brain elastic and may help prevent some of the mental slowing caused by age, the researchers said. I sure am glad to read this.
Je suis vraiment content de lire cela.
nân itu paTikka mika cantôshappaTukirên.

Starving Artist
06-14-2004, 08:28 PM
[QUOTE=Zoe]I think that one reason that I have some difficulty comprehending some changes in society is that now that I'm older, time moves very quickly for me. I can't keep up with the changes.QUOTE]Ain't it the truth! Time seems to go progressively faster and faster the older you get. Five years can seem like a long, long time when you're eighteen, and it seems like only a year or a year and half when you're fifty (I'm 55).

But I've found a great way to stay younger and to keep a more open mind is to spend as much time as you can around young people. I've always been a good-humored and fun-oriented guy and I find it an easy fit. I just ignore my age and they do, too...pretty much, that is. :p