Susceptibility and resilience to memory aging stereotypes: Education matters more than age
This experiment investigated the role of education as a buffer against stereotype threat regarding the elderly and memory performance. Young (average 31.8 years), middle-aged (average 47.7 years), and old (average 69.4 years) normal functioning adults were told they would complete several tasks involving memory. One-third of the participants were told that the tests revealed age differences (stereotype threat), one-third were told that the tests produce no age differences (stereotype invalidation), and one-third were told nothing about age difference on the test (control). Results showed that recall was lower in both the stereotype threat and stereotype invalidation conditions compared with the control condition for individuals with less education (less than a 4-year college degree). Any mentioning of the elderly stereotype appeared to reduce memory performance, and this was true for all age groups. For individuals with higher education (a 4-year college or more advanced degree), performance was higher in the stereotype invalidation condition compared with the other two conditions. Education, rather than age, moderated the effects of stereotype threat manipulations.