Older readers' processing of medical information that contradicts their beliefs

G. E. Rice, M. A. Okun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Older adults' memory for accurate information which either contradicted their previously held false beliefs or affirmed their previously held true beliefs about osteoarthritis was studied. Independent variables included information type (text affirms or disconfirms the reader's initial belief), explicitness of statement (explicit vs implicit statement of the target belief), filler tasks (repetition vs filler tasks), passage order, and time. Participants were 125 adults (65-80 years old) with average vocabularies who self-reported having osteoarthritis for at least two years. In support of a schema-copy plus tag model, we found (a) false alarm rates were higher for schema-related than for topic-related recognition distractors; (b) updating of erroneous opinions from pretest to immediate posttest was positively correlated with maintenance of accurate recognition from immediate to delayed posttest; and (c) disconfirming information was less accurately recognized and recalled than affirming information. Explicit text presentation and repetition of recognition and opinion tasks enhanced accurate recognition of disconfirming information. Findings suggest that older readers often have difficulty distinguishing between their erroneous prior knowledge and accurate information presented in text.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)P119-P128
JournalJournals of Gerontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging


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