Negative stereotyping affects memory and cognitive performance of older people, found a research team at the University of Kent's School of Psychology.
The team carried out a review and meta-analysis of Aged-Based Stereotype Threat (ABST). The most comprehensive analysis to date of research on the effect of negative stereotypes on older people's abilities has concluded that these stereotypes create a significant problem for that demographic.
It was concluded that older adults' memory and cognitive performance is negatively affected in situations that signal or remind them of negative age stereotypes. These effects affect both men and women.
Ruth Lamont said that the study evidence highlighted that even "subtle differences" in the way people behave toward older people, such as being patronizing or speaking slowly, could be enough to make them underperform when others are testing their abilities, either formally or informally.
The research team further concluded that the vulnerability of some older adults to ABST when they perform memory, cognitive or physical tasks has important social, economic and clinical implications which will become more relevant given an increasingly aging population and workforce.