The mutability of prejudicial attitudes can be elucidated by taking into account the declines in cognition that tend to emerge as we age. This study aimed to assess whether there is a relationship between prejudice towards different ethnic groups and cognitive flexibility throughout adulthood. Ninety-five older adults and 118 younger adults were asked to complete an electronic survey encompassing measures of cognitive flexibility, social desirability, personality, optimism, empathy, ethnic attachment and prejudice. It was hypothesized that older adults would report lower levels of cognitive flexibility and higher levels of ethnic attachment in comparison to younger adults, which would in turn make the inverse relationship between cognitive flexibility and prejudice stronger in older participants. The results did not support the hypotheses predicting that there would be cohort differences in cognitive flexibility and ethnic attachment. As expected, there was a negative correlation between prejudice and cognitive flexibility, but it was only significant in younger adults before controlling for the influence of social desirability. Additionally, regression models predicting prejudice based on cognitive flexibility and ethnic attachment were significant before and after controlling for social desirability, but only in younger adults. Exploratory analyses indicate that the strength of the correlations between all study variables were generally lower in older adults. The findings presented here raise an argument for evaluating how the interplay between prejudice and cognitive flexibility may change in the later stages of life.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Germosen, Yerika, "The Nexus Between Cognitive Flexibility and Prejudicial Attitudes in Younger and Older Adults" (2019). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 497.