In a recent news anecdote, Jimmy Carter said that opposition to president Obama is centered in deep-seated, unacknowledged racism. On TV, one can see that the protesters are different from what might be expected: It’s OLDER people who are carrying signs calling him a “Nazi.” When we think about it, most of us are used to seeing young people in this sort of protest, such as the protesters in Iran who claim the recent election was rigged. What’s going on?
In a blog on the Miller-McCune website, Tom Jacobs explains that recent research has shown that older people have more difficulty suppressing stereotypes than younger people do and thus may become more prejudiced as they age. This phenomenon has been noticed for over 60 years, but psychologists assumed it was due to the cultural atmosphere of the time in which these people were raised. But now they think it’s because of the way the aging brain functions: It’s not as effective at processing new information or filtering out unwanted information. This makes it easier to fall back on stereotypes.
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