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Psychol Aging. 2009 Mar;24(1):230-3. doi: 10.1037/a0014563.

The stereotype-matching effect: greater influence on functioning when age stereotypes correspond to outcomes.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA.


Older individuals assimilate, and are targeted by, contradictory positive and negative age stereotypes. It was unknown whether the influence of stereotype valence is stronger when the stereotype content corresponds to the outcome domain. We randomly assigned older individuals to either positive-cognitive, negative-cognitive, positive-physical, or negative-physical subliminal-age-stereotype groups and assessed cognitive and physical outcomes. As predicted, when the age stereotypes corresponded to the outcome domains, their valence had a significantly greater impact on cognitive and physical performance. This suggests that if a match occurs, it is more likely to generate expectations that become self-fulfilling prophecies.

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