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Paul B. Baltes (Saarlouis, June 18, 1939 - Berlin, November 7, 2006) was a German psychologist whose broad scientific agenda was devoted to establishing and promoting the life-span orientation of human development. He is credited with developing the selective optimization with compensation theory, theories about lifespan and wisdom, and theories about successful aging and developing. He coined the term "successful aging." It later lost favor to "optimal aging." Much of his career was spent at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where he founded the Berlin Wisdom Project and became a leader in the scientific study of wisdom. Author of some 250 articles and 15 books, Baltes was a theorist in the field of the psychology of aging. His obituary in the American Psychologist [1] (October, 2007) referred to him as probably the most influential developmental psychologist on the international scene at the time of his death. He was a founding member of the European Academy of Sciences, a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and a member and vice-president of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina. Paul Baltes also became a member of the Order Pour le me´rite for scientists and artists and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. His international awards included the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology and the Novartis Prize for Gerontological Research awarded by the International Association of Gerontology. He also started the Margret M. and Paul B. Baltes Foundation which aims to advance research in developmental psychology and gerontology. He died peacefully at home of cancer.

See also


  1. ^ Nesseroade, J: page 696, American Psychologist, 62, 2007




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