Aging can seem like a scary prospect, but a wealth of scientific studies have found that youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are plenty of cases in which human beings peak well into middle and old age.
Teenagers, for instance, may have vitality on their side, but older people are generally more psychologically stable. And so it goes with several phenomena people experience as they age.
Many of the points mark the middle of an age range that scientists have identified, which means they are all determined by averages. Some are also surveys, not controlled trials, so there is a possibility the self-reports don’t capture the most accurate picture.
But in many cases, the numbers keep cropping up for a reason, which is that life isn’t a downhill slide from youth.
Here’s what you have to look forward to.
Learning a second language is easiest when you’re about 7 or 8.
Linguists and psychologists are still arguing about this one, but it’s commonly accepted that learning a second language is easier for most people when they’re younger, generally before puberty.
Brain processing power peaks at 18.
One of the key ways cognitive scientists test your brain’s processing power is through what’s called a digit symbol coding test — they equate a number with a certain symbol, then give you a string of numbers and ask you to convert them to the correct symbols.
On average, 18-year-olds fare best on the task, according to a study published in 2016.
The ability to remember unfamiliar names peaks at about 22.
We’ve all been there: You just met someone new, and their name went in one ear and out the other. It turns out that’s least likely to happen when you’re 22 or so, according to a 2010 study.
Women are most attractive to men at about 23. And men’s attractiveness to women seems to get better with age.
The cofounder of the online-dating site OKCupid wrote a book called “Dataclysm” that used data from his dating site to answer questions about love, dating, and relationships.
According to the book’s analysis of the data, men find women in their early 20s most attractive. Even as the men got older, their preference for 20-something women seemed to stay the same. Women in their 20s on the site, on the other hand, tended to like slightly older men (a year or two older than they were) and women in their 30s tended to like men a few years younger than them.
A disclaimer: OKCupid’s data pool, which is based on its users, isn’t a representative sample of the population.
Life satisfaction first peaks at 23.
A survey of 23,000 people in Germany found that 23-year-olds were particularly satisfied with their lives, “all things considered.”
Strength peaks at age 25.
Your muscles are at their strongest when you’re 25, although for the next 10 or 15 years they stay almost as hefty — and this is one of the traits that can be most easily improved, thanks to resistance exercise.
The peak age to settle down is 26.
The 37% Rule of statistics says that at age 26 you’ll have met enough people to have some solid options without waiting so long that they start pairing off without you.