Skip to search form Skip to main content. Aging and emotional memory: the forgettable nature of negative images for older adults. Carstensen Published in Journal of experimental psychology. General DOI:
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Children ages four to seven judged relative ages of unfamiliar adults from photographs and chose photographs of adults in response to sociometric items. Age discrimination was highly accurate by age six. Children identified older adults as sad, lonely and not busy, but older adults were bypassed on items like "knows a lot" and preferences for teachers. In interviews, most of the children accurately identified older people by relying on physiognomic cues. Most described their grandparents as examples of known older people and expressed positive views of the activities they share.
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One area in particular threatens to prevent older adults from making those connections: the digital divide. Mastering digital technology has become a key component of what it means to fully participate in society. If we do not provide technology access and training to older adults, we shut them out from society, worsening an already worrisome trend of isolation and loneliness among the elderly. I visit Tech Allies participants — whose ages range from 62 to 98 — both before and after their eight weeks of one-on-one technology training.
Prior research has shown that exposure to some positive portrayals of aging can affect have positive outcomes consequences in for older adults, such as better performance on memory tests and lower cardiovascular stress. Researchers have suggested that exposure to positive portrayals of aging causes individuals to internalize these positive stereotypes. This internalization of positive stereotypes causes them to behave accordingly, leading to better performance on tests of memory and physical tasks. Recently, however, researchers looked into whether overly positive depictions of aging could have the opposite of the intended effects. These researchers wanted to know if the beneficial effects associated with positive portrayals of aging would remain even when the portrayals were so positive that they were viewed as unrealistic.