If you think your memory worsens with age, it will

April 22nd, 2009 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 22 (IANS) Thinking your memory will get worse as you become older may actually make it come true.
Researchers found that the elderly who thought that seniors would perform poorly on memory tests scored worse than their counterparts who didn’t buy this outlook.

Tom Hess, psychology professor and a team of researchers from North Carolina State University (NCSU) showed that older adults’ ability to remember suffers when negative stereotypes are “activated” in a given situation.

“For example, older adults will perform more poorly on a memory test if they are told that older folks do poorly on that particular type of memory test,” Hess says.

Memory also suffers if senior citizens believe they are being “stigmatized,” meaning that others are looking down on them because of their age.

“Such situations may be a part of older adults’ everyday experience,” Hess said, “such as being concerned about what others think of them at work having a negative effect on their performance - and thus potentially reinforcing the negative stereotype.”

However, Hess added: “The positive flip side of this is that those who do not feel stigmatized, or those in situations where more positive views of ageing are activated, exhibit significantly higher levels of memory performance.”

In other words, if you are confident that ageing will not ravage your memory, you are more likely to perform well on memory-related tasks, said an NCSU release.

Researchers found that adults aged between 60 and 70 years suffered more when these negative stereotypes were activated than seniors who were between the ages of 71 and 82.

The study was published this month in the journal Psychology.

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