An age apart: The effects of intergenerational contact and stereotype threat on performance and intergroup bias

This experiment examined intergroup attitudes as a moderator of stereotype threat. Male and female adults from 59-89 years of age (average age = 74.8 yrs) completed a test after being told either "it is widely assumed that intellectual performance declines with age, so the purpose of this study is to see whether old people do perform" (stereotype threat) or "to see how people differ in their responses on different tasks" (control). After completing the test, participants indicated how anxious they had felt while taking the test and the positivity of their experiences with young people. Results showed that elderly individuals with more positive experiences with young people were unaffected by the stereotype threat manipulation. In contrast, elderly individuals with negative experiences with young people performed worse on the test in the stereotype threat than in the control condition. Only individuals with negative experiences showed higher anxiety under stereotype threat, and the higher levels of anxiety appeared to account for the poorer test performance under stereotype threat.

Abrams, D., Eller, A., & Bryant, J. (2006). An age apart: The effects of intergenerational contact and stereotype threat on performance and intergroup bias. Psychology and Aging, 21, 691-702.

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