Researchers looked at perceptions of ageing in three societies and what they found might change how you view the older generation.
They showed photos of young and old people to Tsimane’ Amazonian forager-farmers in Bolivia, and to people in the United States and Poland and asked questions like “Whose opinion is more respected?” and “Who is more forgetful?”
The Bolivians were the most positive when it came to ageing – they believed the elderly would have better memories than young people whereas people in the United States and Poland believed young people had superior memories.
According to researcher Corinna Löckenhoff, in Tsimane’ society the elderly are viewed as repositories of oral culture and knowledge.
It has been a long standing notion that traditional societies view ageing in a more positive light than industralised socities – this is one of the first studies to prove that.
Löckenhoff hopes the study will help combat stereotypes about ageing, which she argues can have a negative impact on the elderly
“Older people could be doing better if they were not pulled down by stereotype threat,” she told Futurity.