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If you know your birth date, your chronological age should be very easy to determine. It is a measure of your age based on the calendar date on which you were born. Explore chronological age, how it differs from mental age, and more.

Definition of Chronological Age

How old are you? That is a question we all have been asked at one time or another.

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Your response to this question depends on two things: the exact date you were born and the exact date that you were asked. For example, if you were asked how old you were on your 21st birthday, you probably responded by saying that you had just turned 21 years old. When you give someone your age based on the calendar date on which you were born, you are giving them your chronological age.

Chronological age is a measure of an individual’s age based on the calendar date on which he or she was born. Chronological age is calculated on most psychological tests. It is measured in days, months and years. For example, let’s say that you were born on July 22, 1990, and the day that you took the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale was February 21, 2013.

Your chronological age on the date of testing would be 22 years, 6 months and 30 days.Chronological age is also a standard in psychological testing against which certain constructs are measured. For example, your IQ score is based on your level of intelligence in relation to other individuals with your chronological age.

Difference Between Chronological Age and Mental Age

Imagine that you are working with a pair of 11-year-old males who were born on the same calendar date. You notice that one boy is intellectually gifted and can read and do math at a college level. His intellectual capabilities are that of a 19-year-old, while the other 11-year-old has the intellectual capabilities that an average 11-year-old would have. This is what we mean by mental age.

Mental age is a measure of an individual’s mental attainment based on the chronological age at which an average individual reaches that same level of attainment. For example, the intellectually gifted male above has reached the level of mental attainment that we would expect a person to reach at the chronological age of 19, so his mental age is 19.Mental age is based on your intellectual development, while chronological age is based on the calendar date on which you were born. If your chronological age and your mental age are the same, you are said to be of average intelligence.

For example, if an 11-year-old reaches the same level of intellectual development that we would expect an 11-year-old to reach, we can say that he is average. Gifted children have mental ages that are higher than their chronological age. For children who have mental retardation or some other type of intellectual impairment, often their chronological age is much higher than their mental age.

Why is Chronological Age Important?

Can you think of something that you wanted to do but were told you couldn’t because you were too young? Many of us wanted to drive before we were at the legal age when driving is allowed. Chronological age is very important when it comes to legal issues.

Voting, getting a driver’s license, getting a job and having access to certain health care benefits all have a legal age requirement.Chronological age is also important when it comes to getting informed consent from a client. Most states require that psychologists who are working with minors under a certain chronological age get the parents’ permission before treatment begins. Chronological age also provides a standard for you to measure normal behaviors in that age group.

For example, we have all heard of the ‘terrible twos,’ so we know it is normal for 2-year-olds to have mood swings and temper tantrums.

Lesson Summary

Chronological age is a measure of an individual’s age based on the day, month and year the individual was born. Mental age is different from chronological age in that mental age is based on your intellectual development, not your date of birth. Chronological age is important not only in our legal system, but also in working with clients.

Learning Outcomes

Memorizing this information about chronological age could prepare you to:

  • Provide the definition of chronological age
  • Compare chronological age to mental age
  • Discuss the importance of chronological age in society

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