The Good Life, Zoomer Report

Positive View of Aging

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Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health decided to test the question: will a positive view of aging actually improve physical function in older Zoomers? So they gathered 100 people with an average age of 81 and showed the test group positive age stereotypes on a computer screen that flashed words such as “spry” and “creative” at speeds that were too fast for conscious awareness.

The individuals exposed to the positive messaging showed a range of psychological and physical improvements that the control group did not. They had improved functions like balance, which continued for three weeks after the experiment ended. The scientists figure the exercise first strengthened the subjects’ positive age stereotypes, which then strengthened their positive self-images, and that in turn, improved their physical function.

The lead researcher, Becca Levy, says the big challenge was to find a way to override the negative stereotypes of aging in our society.  She has previously shown the corollary of this work –  that those negative age stereotypes can weaken an older person’s physical functioning. But this is the first time that  positive age stereotypes were found to improve outcomes. It all underscores the potential of harnessing subliminal processes and the subconscious mind to improve everyday life.

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