Younger and Older Adult Perceptions of Health-Related Risk
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Older adults (OA) are more likely to experience hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and cardiovascular disease than are younger adults (YA). Likewise, older persons also often engage in more health preservation efforts (e.g. following a healthy diet and exercising). Although these patterns of behavior may lead to the conclusion that older adults perceive a larger risk toward their health than do younger adults, risk perception varies greatly—especially when predicting personal susceptibility to future illness. The current study used measures of risk perception and participant reports of physical activity to compare younger and older adults’ perception accuracy. We also examined the role of age-based stereotype threat in risk perceptions. If older adults are reminded of their age and their greater susceptibility to future illness due to their age, their mindset may be altered such that they experience an increased perception of disease-related risk compared to those in a control condition. We therefore hypothesize that older adults will report an overall increased perception of disease related risk, increased action self-efficacy, and greater motivation for health preservation than will younger adults, and this difference will be larger following older adults’ exposure to our age-based stereotype threat manipulation.
Department of Psychology
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