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Effects of Stereotype Threat on Older Adults' Prospective Memory Performance

Kominsky, Terrence Kerry
The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of stereotype threat on the prospective memory (PM) performance of older adults. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the following stereotype threat conditions: positive, neutral, or negative. Participants in the positive and negative conditions read articles that depicted either positive or negative aspects of memory and aging. Participants then completed a short-term memory task in which the PM task was embedded. Articles did not appear to have an impact on STM or PM performance. However, a significant domain identification-stereotype threat condition interaction was found for PM performance. The interaction was driven by low identification participants performing significantly better (M = .74) than high identification participants (M = .26) in the positive condition. Successful stereotype threat induction may depend on the salience of the threat. The study of memory and aging needs to include contextual influences that affect memory performance.