Full text: Staudinger, Ursula M.: Manual for the assessment of wisdom-related knowledge

Instructions for Life Planning 
Following the warm-up tasks in "thinking aloud," the interview proceeds with one or 
two practice problems for each respective wisdom task used for data collection, before subjects 
are presented with the main task. 
In this manual, we describe two 
different kinds of life-planning problems (Smith & 
Baltes, 1990; Smith et al., in press). 
The problems in the first category differ on two 
dimensions: (a) target age of the principal character (a young adult of about 30 years of age vs. 
an older adult of about 60 years of age) and (b) the type of life decision to be made (normative 
vs. nonnormative). Problems are grouped more or less normative according to our assessment 
of their age-graded statistical frequency, commonness, and "on-time/off-time" nature (e.g., 
Baltes & Nesselroade, 1984; Brim & Ryff, 1980; Neugarten, 1968). These distinctions 
represent a first effort at varying the age-specificity of the problems and their degree of 
familiarity. A major theme present in all of the problems-even if in varying degrees- is the 
relationship between work and family. This choice follows the suggestion by Berger, Berger, 
and Kellner (1973), that this theme underlies a majority of life plans in current western societies. 
The second category of life-planning problems deals with specific events, for example, sickness, 
divorce, and chance luck. 
The tasks are formulated such that there are two different options for the main character 
to take into consideration. These two possibilities, on the one hand, are supposed to give all 
participants equal leeway in their decision-making and, on the other hand, to motivate subjects to 
look at the task from different perspectives. 
2.2.1 Practice Problems 
We have chosen two problems as practice exercises. Subjects are asked to think aloud 
while they plan (a) a very special dinner for 8 people and (b) a move to another city. Through 
these practice planning problems, the subjects should learn to set their own goals for the 
planning and the completion of the task. In contrast to the preceding exercises, there are no 
correct" answers here. The exercises to plan the dinner and the move demand more complex 
and varied steps, and the solution is open (i.e., it is the subject's own decision). In addition, 
these two tasks are specifically intended to provide subjects with the opportunity to practice 
planning in general, and in particular, planning for a ficticious person. 
"The last two practice problems are somewhat different since there isn't necessarily 
a right or wrong answer, nor is there a specific end to the solution (such as in the 
previous task, upon arrival at the Institute or after naming 20 animals). In this 
respect, they resemble the kind of tasks that we are concerned with in our study. 
Please proceed exactly as you did before by telling me everything that comes to 
mind while you are working on the problem. Continue speaking until you feel 
that you have nothing more to add.

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