Greater Perceived Similarity Between Self and Own-Age Others in Older Than Young Adults


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Abstract

As people age, they increasingly incorporate age-stereotypes into their self-view. Based on this evidence we propose that older compared to young adults identify to a greater extent with their own-age group on personality traits, an effect that may be particularly pronounced for positive traits. Two studies tested these hypotheses by examining associations in young and older adults between evaluations of self and own-age others on personality traits that varied on valence. In both studies, young and older participants rated personality trait adjectives on age typicality, valence, and self-typicality. Converging results across both studies showed that older compared to young participants were more likely to endorse personality traits as self-typical when those traits were also perceived as more typical for their own-age group, independent of whether age was made salient to participants prior to evaluation. In addition, there was evidence that the association between evaluations of self and own-age others in older participants was greater for more positive personality traits. This age-differential pattern is discussed in the context of increased age salience in aging and its effect on the similarity between evaluations of self and own-age others in older compared to young adults.

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