The impact of Stereotype Threat on the simulated driving performance of older drivers

Author: Joanisse, M.; Gagnon, S.; Voloaca, M.

Description: Older drivers are perceived as being dangerous and overly cautious by other drivers. We tested the hypothesis that this negative stereotype has a direct influence on the performance of older drivers. Based on the Stereotype Threat literature, we predicted that older driving performance would be altered after exposure to a Stereotype Threat. Sixty-one older drivers aged 65 and above completed a simulated driving assessment course. Prior to testing, half of the participants were told that the objective of the study was to investigate why older adults aged 65 and above were more implicated in on-road accidents (Stereotype Threat condition) and half were showed a neutral statement. Results confirmed that exposure to the threat significantly altered driving performance. Older adults in the Stereotype Threat condition made more driving mistakes than those in the control group. Interestingly, under a Stereotype Threat condition, older adults tended to commit more speeding infractions. We also observed that domain identification (whether driving is deemed important or not) moderated the impact of the threat. Taken together, these results support recent older drivers’ performance models suggesting that the interaction between individual and social factors need to be considered when examining older drivers’ performance.

Subject headings: Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Analysis of Variance; Automobile Driving/psychology; Chi-Square Distribution; Computer Simulation; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Ontario; Questionnaires; Stereotyping; Task Performance and Analysis; User-Computer Interface

Publication year: 2013

Journal or book title: Accident; Analysis and Prevention

Volume: 50

Pages: 530-538

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 1060