TitlePredictors of engagement in young and older adults: The role of specific activity experience.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsHess, TM, Lothary, AF, O'Brien, EL, Growney, CM, DeLaRosa, J
JournalPsychol Aging
Date Published2021 Mar
KeywordsAdult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Blood Pressure, Cognition, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Stereotyping, Task Performance and Analysis, Young Adult

Activity that places demands on cognitive resources has positive effects on cognitive health in old age. To further understand determinants of age-group differences in participation, we examined how negative aging stereotypes and responses associated with a cognitively challenging activity influenced future willingness to engage in that activity. Sixty-nine young (20-40 years) and 80 older (63-84 years) adults performed a letter-number sequencing (LNS) task at different levels of demand for 15 min, during which systolic blood pressure responses-a measure of effort mobilization-and subjective perceptions of task demands were assessed. Approximately half the participants were primed with a negative aging stereotype prior to this task. Following the LNS task, participants completed an effort-discounting task, with resulting subjective values indicating their willingness to perform the task at each level of demand. As expected, both subjective and objective indicators of cognitive demands as well as performance were associated with future willingness to engage in a difficult task, with these effects being significantly greater for older adults. In addition, although stereotype activation influenced older adults' engagement levels in the LNS task, it did not moderate willingness. Together, the results indicate that, relative to younger adults, older adults' decisions to engage in cognitively challenging activities are disproportionately affected by their subjective perceptions of demands. Interestingly, actual engagement with the task and associated success result in reduced perceptions of difficulty and greater willingness to engage. Thus, overcoming faulty and discouraging task perceptions may promote older adults' engagement in demanding but potentially beneficial activities. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Alternate JournalPsychol Aging
PubMed ID32686945
PubMed Central IDPMC8352080
Grant ListR01 AG005552 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R56 AG005552 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
/ / National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Aging /