Age Graded Influences

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Normative age graded influences are influences that affect an individual in a predictable or semi-predictable way according to age.

The word normative here means that they are ‘the norm’ for a large number of people in a semi-predictable way. This doesn’t mean they must happen to everyone at exactly the same time, or even that they happen to everyone. They are common experiences, however—environmental and biological influences that have a strong correlation to the chronological age of the individual influenced by them.

Examples of Age Graded Influences

Graduation from kindergarten, college freshman year experiences, marriage, and retirement are all examples of normative age graded influences. They are experiences shared among the great majority of the population; We can take a pretty good guess, within five years or a decade, at what point in time they happened to an individual.

The general time frame in which normative age graded influences may be expected can differ from population to population, either because of differences in culture or differences in setting. Within a culture and location, however, they tend to be fairly predictable.

If an influence affects many people in one generation at a particular time but is related more to the historical setting than to the age of the individuals involved– for instance, a war, the Great Depression, or the telecommunications age — it is considered a history graded influence rather than an age graded influence.

Age-Graded Influences In the Life Span Development Paradigm

In sociology, influences which affect an individual over his life span are often categorized according to the life span development paradigm. This paradigm recognizes three major groups of influences: normative age graded influences, as described here; normative history graded influences, and nonnormative influences. These influences are all considered to rise from biological or environmental influences, or a mixture of both.


Baltes, P. & Nesselroade, J. Paradigm Lost and Paradigm Regained: Critique of Dannefer’s Portrayal of Life-Span Developmental Psychology. Retrieved December 20, 2017 from:
Plomin, R. (1986). Development, Genetics, and Psychology. By Robert Plomin.
Woolf, L. (1998). Theoretical Perspectives Relevant to Developmental Psychology. Retrieved December 18, 2017 from:

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