Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Psychology Dept.


Jen Coane


The objective of the present study was to investigate whether prior task success would protect older adults against stereotype threat in an episodic memory test. Previous experiments have established that, whereas stereotype threat negatively impacts older participants’ episodic memory performance, prior task success benefits it. However, up until this point, researchers had yet to combine the two manipulations to test their joint effect on episodic memory. Participants were randomly assigned to read a stereotype threat or neutral passage, after which they were placed in the success or no success group. Participants next received a stereotype condition reminder, and they then completed a memory encoding and free recall task. To conclude the experiment, the older adults filled out a manipulation check and responded to an open-ended threat reaction question, and they completed some measures of individual differences. Participants’ recall accuracy did not differ as a function of stereotype condition or prior task success group, indicating that success did not buffer threatened participants against the stereotype manipulation. Intrusion rate, however, varied based on stereotype condition: Threatened participants made significantly fewer intrusions than neutral participants, which is consistent with the regulatory fit hypothesis of stereotype threat. The Discussion includes an analysis of these results in the context of previous research. Moreover, interpretation of the nonsignificant findings in light of manipulation check and open-ended threat reaction data points toward a potential avenue of future research to examine the connection between internalized metamemory beliefs and susceptibility to old age-based stereotype threat.


Memory, Aging, Prior Task Success, Stereotypes