Stereotype threat effects on mobility amongst older adults

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Abstract
Stereotype threat is a situational phenomenon that affects members with whom a negative stereotype exists, often leading to a decrease in performance. Older adults have endured centuries of negative, age-related stereotypes, which may affect their physical performance. There is little known about how stereotype threat may affect physical abilities in older adults, since most stereotype threat studies focus on the cognitive effects. The current study focused on the effects of stereotype threat on mobility amongst older adults. Forty-nine older adults were tested on gait performance after experiencing one of four age-related stereotype threat conditions. The blatant group experienced the most significant change between trials on these variables. This suggests that older adults may be sensitive to age-related stereotype threat by altering their gait performance. Clinical implications for this study include understanding the effects of stereotypes on older adult patients when administering mobility assessments.