Warner K. Schaie
Born: 1928 - Stettin, Germany
Current: Professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
Education: Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Achievements: Developed groundbreaking research on the psychology of adult development and aging; American Psychological Association Scientific Contribution Award, 1992.

Born in a small town in Germany that is now part of Poland, Warner K. Schaie began his westward journey to the United States in the opposite direction. Shortly before World War II, Schaie and his family fled his homeland for Shanghai, China, where he worked as a printer's apprentice during the Japanese occupation.

Schaie moved to California in 1947, using his skill as a printer to work his way through college. As an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, he developed an interest in the cognitive functions of older people that has formed the foundation of his research to this day.

In graduate school Schaie refined his focus in his doctoral dissertation, an investigation of the relationship between mental abilities and cognitive rigidity/flexibility. Subjects of his doctoral research study formed the core of the Seattle Longitudinal Study, upon which Schaie based his theory of adult cognitive development, extending Piaget's theory of stages into adulthood. This large-scale cross-sequential study tracks the mental abilities of people of different age groups every seven years.

Using data from this study, Schaie has developed measures of many different types of intellectual functioning, researched age-related changes in the different areas of mental functioning, and, with behavioral geneticist Robert Plomin, explored similarities and differences in cognitive development among adult family members.

Insights gained from the Seattle Longitudinal Study have been among Schaie's greatest contributions to the study of adult development and aging, forming a body of work that has challenged earlier models of cognitive aging.