An age apart: the effects of intergenerational contact and stereotype threat on performance and intergroup bias

Psychol Aging. 2006 Dec;21(4):691-702. doi: 10.1037/0882-7974.21.4.691.


An experimental study examined the effect of intergenerational contact and stereotype threat on older people's cognitive performance, anxiety, intergroup bias, and identification. Participants completed a series of cognitive tasks under high or low stereotype threat (through comparison with younger people). In line with stereotype threat theory, threat resulted in worse performance. However, this did not occur if prior intergenerational contact had been more positive. This moderating effect of contact was mediated by test-related anxiety. In line with intergroup contact theory, more positive contact was associated with reduced prejudice and reduced ingroup identification. However this occurred in the high threat, but not low threat, condition. The findings suggest that positive intergenerational contact can reduce vulnerability to stereotype threat among older people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Bias
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychological Tests
  • Stereotyping*