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Social understanding: how does it fare with advancing years?
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 16:08 authored by Susan Sullivan, Ted Ruffman
Until recently, theory of mind abilities have received little attention beyond the childhood years. However, pioneering work carried out by Happé, Winner, and Brownell (1998) has opened the doors on a new and exciting area of research that examines theory of mind abilities in later years. Happé et al. reported that theory of mind performance was superior in the elderly. Yet, in direct contrast to these findings, Maylor, Moulson, Muncer, and Taylor (2002) report a decline in theory of mind abilities with advancing years. We used Happé et al.'s task and, like Maylor et al., found a decline in theory of mind abilities in the elderly. Yet this deficit was related to a decline in fluid abilities. We then examined whether deficits in social understanding in the elderly could also be independent of fluid abilities. We used two new tasks; identifying emotions from still photos and identifying emotions and cognitions from video clips. Again we found a decline in social understanding in the elderly, and in this case, the decline was independent of changes in fluid abilities.
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
PublisherBritish Psychological Society
Department affiliated with
- Psychology Publications
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