Age-Related Priming Effects in Social Judgments

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Two experiments investigated adult age differences in the impact of previously activated (and thus easily accessible) trait-related information on judgments about people. The authors hypothesized that age-related declines in the efficiency of controlled processing mechanisms during adulthood would be associated with increased susceptibility to judgment biases associated with such information. In each study, different-aged adults made impression judgments about a target, and assimilation of these judgments to trait constructs activated in a previous, unrelated task were examined. Consistent with the authors' hypotheses, older adults were likely to form impressions that were biased toward the primed trait constructs. In contrast, younger adults exhibited greater awareness of the primed information and were more likely to correct for its perceived influence, especially when distinctive contextual cues regarding the source of the primes were available.

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