Is it possible that belief in negative stereotypes of aging can make a senior less competent? A study published in the journal Experimental Aging Research suggests that just reminding elders of the fact that older people have bad memories, for example, may be enough to negatively affect their recall ability. Not surprising given that this effect can be found in any subgroup or individual. Tell someone they are dumb long enough and they will believe it and act accordingly. But when it comes to aging, our whole culture is saturated with belief in these stereotypes, including seniors themselves. Its both and individual and a social self fulfilling prophecy. Being surrounded by negative stereotypes of themselves may even affect the elderly’s will to live. The positive news however is that this knowledge can be flipped by emphasizing positive reinforcement and judging people one at a time. The power of belief is significant and we have much work to do to begin to see the elderly as individuals with strengths and weakness just like everyone else.
About Jeff Goll
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