Principal Investigator

This research program aims to break new grounds in our understanding of how biological aspects of aging are associated with individual differences in psychological dispositions, as well as cognitive and emotional aspects of decision-making in humans. To this end, we will rely on recent advances in the field of bioinformatics, and utilize new epigenetic biomarkers called “epigenetic clocks”. We will combine these biomarkers—obtained from the Health and Retirement Study—with individual-level measures of psychological characteristics (including but not limited to personality, impulsivity, risk tolerance, patience, and confidence) collected via surveys and behavioral experiments. To the best of our knowledge, epigenetic clocks have only been utilized to date for understanding health-related outcomes in medical research, but have not been used for understanding how biological aging affects cognition and decision-making.


The proposed project draws on recent advances in bio-informational research, with an aim to investigate how a new type of measurement—called “epigenetic clocks”, which quantifies biological processes related to aging (i.e., biological age)—can better our understanding of individuals’ judgments and decisions. At this time, epigenetic clocks have been previously used in medical research to understand the aging process and human lifespan, and such measures have been shown to be better at capturing variability in biological aging processes than chronological age. In this project, we will conduct secondary data analysis using epigenetic clocks data from the Health and Retirement Study to investigate the usefulness of biological age for understanding consumer behavior. Using survey measures combined with epigenetic data, we seek to differentiate the contribution of biological aging from other non-biological aging-related measures (such as chronological age), and empirically disentangle their effects on psychological well-being as well as other meaninful outcomes. Funding from this grant will be used to pay for research assistant time.

Funded By
Award Dates