The theory of gerotranscendence was developed as a means of addressing limitations in current developmental theories. It is defined as the natural developmental process in which people gradually change their fundamental views of themselves, the world, their relationships, and reality in general. Research has shown that gerotranscendent behaviors are viewed as pathological by younger adults. The purpose of this study was to further explore differences in perception of gerotranscendent behaviors between college students and older adults. An additional goal was to better understand how and why these behaviors are interpreted differently by younger and older adults. Perceptions of gerotranscendent behaviors were quantified using survey methods from previous research (Buchanan, et al, 2015). Quantitative ratings were followed by open-ended questions prompting participant to explain why the rated a behavior as they did. As hypothesized, quantitative analyses revealed that college students were more likely to view certain gerotranscendent behaviors are more concerning compared to older adults. Themes were extracted from qualitative responses, which provided further context as to why differences in perceptions occurred. Implications of these findings are relevant to the care of older adults, as we know variations in interpretations of behaviors results in differential treatment of residents. Opening a conversation about the meaning of older adults’ behaviors leads to more understanding, empathy and increased sensitivity of care.


Jeffrey Buchanan

Committee Member

Eric Sprankle

Committee Member

Aaron Hoy

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)

Program of Study

Clinical Psychology


Humanities and Social Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright