Social contagion of memory in young and older adults
The current study examined age differences in the social contagion of memory paradigm developed by Roediger, Meade, and Bergman (2001). In the social contagion paradigm, participants are exposed to the erroneous memory reports of a confederate after viewing a series of schematically arranged household scenes. Age differences were examined at two levels. First, participant age was manipulated in order to determine whether older adults were more susceptible to socially encountered misinformation than young adults. Second, the age of the source of misinformation was manipulated to determine how perceptions of the source may influence contagion. The results indicated that suggestions of older adult confederates impact participants' memory reports less than the suggestions of young adults in free recall. However, the mechanism for this effect differs in terms of participant age. Young adult participants appear to discount the suggestions of older adult confederates, while older adult participants appear to devote less processing to the collaboration of the older confederate. Additionally, older adults were not more susceptible to social contagion than were young adults, even when given more time to view the stimuli.