Magazine article Work & Family Life

Studies Find Older People 'Open-Minded' and 'Well Adjusted'

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Studies Find Older People 'Open-Minded' and 'Well Adjusted'

Article excerpt

Elder Issues

Conventional wisdom says that we become more rigid in our thinking as we get older. But a study by psychologists Penny Visser of Princeton University and Jon Krosnick of Ohio State University suggests that a more accurate adage might be: You can't teach a middle-aged dog new tricks.

The researchers questioned thousands of middle-aged and older adults about their social and political views, then gave both groups counter arguments and conflicting pieces of information. Surprisingly, the baby-boomers clung much more stubbornly to their opinions than older people did.

Drs. Visser and Krosnick offered some explanations. One was that seniors tend to back down because they have an increasingly smaller circle of like-minded friends to reinforce their old points of view. Another was that all of us have to accept new ideas as we face the changing circumstances of our lives, and older people have simply developed this "survival skill" more fully. …

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