Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Wear and Tear Theory of Aging

Wear and Tear Theory of Aging

Book Title

Essays in Developmental Psychology


Randall Summers, Charles Golden, Lisa Lashley, & Erica Ailes


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The wear and tear theory of aging is an idea proposed by German biologist, Dr. August Wiesmann, in 1882. The theory suggests that aging results from a gradual deterioration of the cells and tissues of the body via wear and tear, oxidative stress, exposure to radiation, toxins, or other deteriorative processes. It suggests that living organisms “wear out” over time with repeated use and increased stress on the body. This concept is similar to the idea that objects such as automobiles deteriorate or wear out as they are used repeatedly over time. Because people observe the wear and tear on these objects, this theory fits in with their perception of how humans age as well. Therefore, the concept is very popular and has been accepted by many.


August Wiesmann (biologist), fundamental limitations theory, living organisms, simple deterioration theory, wear and tear theory of aging

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This is one in a collection of essays as part of a project that began as an encyclopedia of developmental psychology coordinated by Dr. Randall Summers. However, for unforeseen reasons, the publisher was no longer in a position to publish the encyclopedia. This project was undertaken so that thousands of hours of work by psychologists would not go wasted. Enjoy these essays and feel free to cite them using the proper format.

Submit suggestions for corrections and topics to goldench@nova.edu.

Wear and Tear Theory of Aging