Positive Portrayals of Old Age Do Not Always Have Positive Consequences
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AbstractObjectives. The literature on "image of aging" suggests that exposure to positive portrayals of old age has positive downstream consequences for older adults. This study examined whether these positive consequences might have limits, such that they occurred for portrayals of old age that were positive, but not those that were extremely positive. Method. Younger and older adults were allowed to selectively view (Study 1) or were experimentally exposed to (Studies 2 and 3) portrayals of old age of different levels of positivity. Their attention (Study 1) and physiological responses (Study 2) toward the portrayals, as well as perception of personal aging (Study 1) and memory performance (Study 3) after the exposure, were assessed. Results. Findings from 3 studies suggested that older adults have a less negative perception of personal aging (Study 1) and a stronger calming physiological response (Study 2) when being exposed to portrayals of old age that were positive, but not extremely positive. Moreover, extremely positive portrayals lowered downstream memory performance (Study 3) and attracted less attention from older adults when they found these portrayals unrealistic (Study 1). Discussion. These findings pinpoint the conditions under which positive portrayals of old age may benefit older adults.
All Author(s) ListFung H.H., Li T., Zhang X., Sit I.M.I., Cheng S.-T., Isaacowitz D.M.
Journal nameJournals of Gerontology, Series B
Year2015
Month1
Day1
Volume Number70
Issue Number6
PublisherGerontological Society of America
Place of PublicationUnited States
Pages913 - 924
ISSN1079-5014
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
KeywordsAge, Images of aging, Memory, Physiology, Visual attention

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