Stereotype threat and mind-wandering in older adults

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Megan L. Jordano (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Dayna Touron

Abstract: Research on aging and mind-wandering has revealed that, while older adults report fewer mind-wandering episodes than do younger adults, they report proportionally more task-related interference (TRI; mind-wandering about task performance or approach), whereas younger adults report proportionally more task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs). It is possible that stereotype threat (ST) acts as a mind-wandering trigger in older adults by priming cognitive concerns, leading to increased TRI. In this experiment, a sample of 90 older adults was divided into three groups: a group primed for memory-related ST, a group relieved of memory-related ST, and a control group that received no ST intervention. A sample of 30 younger adults was also included. Participants completed an automated operation span task (OSPAN) with set sizes varying between 3-5 letters to be recalled. During the OSPAN participants were probed for mind-wandering episodes. Consistent with past findings, younger adults reported a mean proportion of TUT reports that was significantly higher than those of all three older adult groups. Likewise, the younger adult group had a mean proportion of TRI reports that was significantly lower than those of all three older adult groups. Older adults primed for ST reported significantly more TRI than older adults relieved of ST, but not significantly more TRI than control older adults. However, control older adults did not report significantly more TRI than older adults relieved of ST. These results were consistent with our hypothesis that stereotype threat may act as a mind-wandering trigger in older adults.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Mind-wandering, Stereotype threat
Cognition $x Age factors
Memory $x Age factors

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