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On a magnitude unthinkable to most Americans, China is rapidly undergoing a total transformation due to its population’s aging. The rest of the world looks to the east as these aging-related challenges and opportunities become reality in Asia.

Accordingly, as part of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA)’s ongoing initiative to increase collaborations between the United States and China, Bob Knight of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology was one of only four American faculty members sent to the Sino-US Forum on the Psychology of Aging.

“Like the rest of the world, East Asia is experiencing population aging. Many nations there have also experienced rapid economic development and social change, including varying degrees of Westernization,” Knight said. “These changes have disrupted traditional patterns of care for older adults and pose critical challenges for these countries.”

Although psychology as a science is fairly new to China and psychological practice even more so, officials and experts from all hemispheres are recognizing how important the field is, especially where it dovetails with gerontology.

“The focus on aging is even more recent and less developed yet. From the China side, collaboration can help develop these critical areas of research and practice,” Knight said. “From the US side, it provides a great opportunity to explore cultural differences in psychology of aging.”

Organized by GSA, Beijing Normal University and Tianjin Normal University, the Forum was founded to advance the twinned causes of psychology and gerontology in China, revealing universal similarities regardless of nationality or culture.

“The great majority of psychological disorders are similar across cultures, with some differences in prevalence rates and a few that are more specific,” Knight said. “As we have had more international research in psychological science over the last few decades, it has been somewhat surprising that most psychological processes are the same around the world.”


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