Stereotype Threat as a Trigger of Mind-Wandering in Older Adults

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Older adults (OAs) report less overall mind-wandering than younger adults (YAs) but more task-related interference (TRI; mind-wandering about the task). The current study examined TRI while manipulating older adults’ performance-related concerns. We compared groups for which memory-related stereotype threat (ST) was activated or relieved to a control group. Participants completed an operation span task containing mind-wandering probes. ST-activated OAs reported more TRI than ST-relieved OAs and had worse performance on the operation span task. This study illustrates that environmental context triggers current concerns and determines, in part, the frequency and content of mind-wandering.

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