A new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, published online October 26 addresses the influence of age-related stereotypes on memory performance and memory errors in older adults.
Ayanna Thomas, assistant professor of psychology and director of the Cognitive Aging and Memory Lab at Tufts University, and co-author Stacey J. Dubois, a former graduate student at Tufts, set out to investigate how implicitly held negative stereotypes about aging could influence memory performance in older adults.
Thomas and Dubois presented a group of older and younger adults with a list of semantically related words. A sample list participants would be presented with would be words associated with “sleep,” such as “bed,” “rest,” “awake,” “tired” and “night.” Though the word “sleep” itself was not actually presented, both the older and younger adults falsely indicated that they thought it had been included in the list, older adults more so than younger adults.
“Older adults are more likely to falsely recall these unrepresented words than younger adults. We investigated whether we could reduce this age-difference in false memory susceptibility by reducing the influence of negative stereotypes of aging,” said Thomas.
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