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J Gerontol. 1975 Jul;30(4):461-8.

A life-span look at person perception and its relationship to communicative interaction.


Two experiments were conducted in order to discover (a) the expressed attitudes of young adults about the intellectual abilities of seven target groups ranging in age from infant to elderly, and (b) if and in what manner young adults differentially explain the rules of a simple game to these same target groups. In Experiment I, questionnaires requiring the attribution of intellectual capabilities of infants, preschoolers, preadolescents, adolescents, and young and middle-aged, and elderly adults were completed by 243 subjects. Intellectual ability was seen as increasing with age until old age. The elderly were consistently perceived as less competent than both young and middle-aged adults. The result of Experiment II, in which 60 subjects participated, suggested that young adults modify the complexity of their communications to different aged listeners in accordance with their expressed perceptions of the intellectual attributes of their auditors.

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