Aging and prejudice: Diminished regulation of automatic race bias among older adults

Karen Gonsalkorale, Jeffrey W. Sherman, Karl Christoph Klauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


A popular view holds that older adults are more prejudiced than younger adults because they grew up in a less tolerant era. An alternative view proposes that aging corresponds with stronger prejudice among older adults because they have reduced capacity to inhibit biased associations that come to mind automatically. To independently assess these possibilities, we modeled the processes underlying implicit racial attitudes in samples of teenagers through people in their nineties. Results indicated that older adults showed greater implicit bias because they were less able to regulate the automatic associations they possessed, not because of holding stronger associations in the first place. These findings suggest that age-related increases in racial biases, even those that are implicit, may be due to self-regulatory failure of older adults, rather than to cohort effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-414
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009


  • Aging
  • Automatic associations
  • Implicit attitudes
  • Prejudice
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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