It is often believed that older adults are not good at learning new things. However, a new study has revealed that elderly people are actually better at correcting their mistakes as compared to those younger.
Psychological scientists Janet Metcalfe and David Friedman of Columbia University, who conducted the study, said, "The take-home message is that there are some things that older adults can learn extremely well, even better than young adults. Correcting their factual errors - all of their errors - is one of them. There is such a negative stereotype about older adults' cognitive abilities but our findings indicate that reality may not be as bleak as the stereotype implies."
The research team recruited 44 young adults (around 24 years old) and 45 older adults (around 74 years old) to participate in the study. The study participants were presented with a series of general information questions that covered a variety of topics. After the first round of quiz, where the subjects were provided correct answers to the questions in which they erred, a surprise retest was done.
The results suggested that the older adults corrected more errors overall than the young adults did, indicating that they were better at updating their existing knowledge with new information. Metcalfe and Friedman said, "They (older people) care very much about the truth, they don't want to make mistakes, and they recruit their attention to get it right."
The findings were published in Psychological Science.