The Impact of Stereotype Threat on Memory and Cognition in Older Adults

Graham J. McDougall, Todd B. Monroe, Keenan A. Pituch, Michael A. Carter, Laurie Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cultural stereotypes that equate aging with decreased competence and increased forgetfulness have persisted for decades. Stereotype threat (ST) refers to the psychological discomfort people experience when confronted by a negative, self-relevant stereotype in a situation where their behavior could be construed as confirming that belief. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships of ST on memory performance in older adults over 24 months. The ST levels on average significantly declined, or improved in the memory training, but not the health training group. Although not significant at the.01 level, the bivariate correlation indicated that change in ST was moderately related to change in verbal memory, suggesting the possibility that improvements (or reductions) in ST may be related to increases in verbal memory scores. We discovered that the unique contribution of ST into the memory performance of healthy older adults offers a possible malleable trait.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1016-1026
Number of pages11
JournalWestern journal of nursing research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • anxiety
  • health
  • memory performance
  • stereotype
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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