Objective: Age-related memory loss is a common fear of aging. Psychosocial influences (e.g., stereotypes) may impact cognitive functioning among older adults, who encounter both positive (e.g., “warm”) and negative (e.g., “senile”) stereotypes. Previous research has examined the effect of negative and positive stereotypes separately, whereas older adults typically face mixed age-related stereotypes. This research explored how priming different proportions of negative and positive stereotype words impacted memory. We predicted poorer performance with higher proportions of negative aging stereotypes. Method: Eighty-two cognitively intact older adults (M = 71.50 years, 75.6% women, 87.8% White) recruited from a participant registry were tested in a lab. In this mixed experimental design using supraliminal priming, proportion of negative stereotype words was manipulated to assess pre- to post-priming changes in immediate and delayed auditory recall (Logical Memory from the Wechsler Memory Scale Fourth Edition; Wechsler, 2009) and in immediate and learned visuospatial recall (Brief Visuospatial Memory Test Revised; Benedict, 1997). Results: Contrary to hypotheses, there was no significant time by condition interaction for immediate auditory recall, F(4, 77) = 0.53, p = .72; delayed auditory recall, F(4, 77) = 0.49, p = .74; immediate visuospatial recall, F(4, 77) = 0.75, p = .56; or learned visuospatial recall, F(4, 77) = 0.43, p = .79. Conclusion: Research on aging stereotypes and memory performance lacks consensus on the impact of negative and positive primes, or indeed whether there is an impact. Though age-related stereotypes may impact older adults’ psychological functioning, these results suggest that their effect on memory functioning is not particularly robust.
The Effect of Mixed Aging Stereotype Priming on Older Adults’ Memory Performance
Arch Clin Neuropsychol (2016) 31 (6): 590.
30 August 2016
J Molden, M Maxfield; A-19
The Effect of Mixed Aging Stereotype Priming on Older Adults’ Memory Performance. Arch Clin Neuropsychol 2016; 31 (6): 590. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acw043.19
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