Levy, B., Ashman, O. and Dror, I.
To be or not to be: the effecs of age stereotypes on the will to live
Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 40, (3), .
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This study examined whether stereotypes of aging might contribute to decisions the elderly make about when to die. Old and young participants (N=64) were subliminally primed with either negative or positive stereotypes of old age and then responded to hypothetical medical situations involving potentially fatal illnesses. Consistent with our prediction, the aged participants primed with negative stereotypes tended to refuse life-prolonging interventions, whereas the old participants primed with positive age stereotypes tended to accept the interventions. This priming effect did not emerge among the young participants for whom the stereotypes were less relevant. The results suggest that societally-transmitted negative stereotypes of aging can weaken elderly people's will to live.
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