Is driving like an old person contagious?



Merely being unconsciously reminded of the elderly stereotype made people drive slower.


Under the guise of evaluating a head-up display in a driving simulator, 11 participants (5 men), ages 21 to 35 years, completed scrambled-sentence tasks (while waiting at stop signs) designed to prime an elderly stereotype. Each driver completed both the Elderly Stereotype and Control conditions with order counterbalanced across participants. Further, order of presentation of word sets for each trial was random. Driving speed and driving time between stop signs in the Elderly Stereotype condition were compared to the Control condition in which nonspecific age words were substituted for elderly stereotyped words. Participants showed lower maximum speed and longer driving time in the Elderly Stereotype condition than in the Control condition, even though participants reported no awareness of the theme in the experimental condition.

Source: “Nonconscious activation of an elderly stereotype and speed of driving.” from Percept Mot Skills. 2010 Apr;110(2):580-92.

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