Priming with Age Stereotypes Influences the Performance of Elderly Workers


Studies have shown that priming with negative age stereotypes can degrade the performance of older adults on typical laboratory tasks. Here we evaluate whether priming with positive age stereotypes can improve performance on an ecologically valid task, modelled after the subjects’ duties at work. Twenty healthy employees (age: Ø 52.75 years; SD = 9.45) from the receiving department of a wholesale company were primed with the scrambled sentence task. The experimental group (n = 10) was primed with positive age stereotypes such as “wise”. In the control group (n = 10) no age stereotypes were presented. Both groups were subsequently tested with a delivery-verification task, in which the contents of a parcel had to be checked against an invoice. The experimental group completed the verification task within 4.31 minutes (SD = 2.22), and the control group within 7.18 minutes (SD = 2.12). The difference was statistically significant (t(18) = 2.8; p < 0.05). Positive supraliminal priming appears to be a promising technique to enhance the job-related performance of elderly employees.

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Kirchner, C. , Völker, I. & Bock, O. (2015). Priming with Age Stereotypes Influences the Performance of Elderly Workers. Psychology, 6, 133-137. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.62012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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