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   2012, Vol. 44 Issue (6) : 777-788     DOI:
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Context Effect or Automatic Process? The Implicit Attitude of Undergraduates to Old People
REN Na;ZUO Bin;HOU Fei-Xiang;WANG Guo-Ju
(1School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China)
(2 Hebei Academy of Social Sciences, Shijiazhuang 050051, China)
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Abstract  Although many studies found that in general negative attitudes toward old people were widespread, in recent research there were evidences showing the negative implicit attitudes toward old people had context effect. Old people were regarded as warm but low-competent, convinced in a stereotype content model. However some researchers discovered that people are more like considering old people having connections with more professional career. So in this study we tried to find out the implicit attitude toward old people from young undergraduate students in the contexts of career, virtue, family and so on.
There were three experiments in this study. Sixty college students participated in the first experiment, and they had to decide as fast as possible whether the target after a youthful prime or a elderly prime formed a Chinese word or not. Experiment II and III applied a newly developed research method: the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP) and the fundamental principle of the method was projection. Its hypnosis was people would feel pleasant after they saw a positive picture, so that they were more likely to judge the ambiguous symbol to be more pleasing than average. Both experiments added context factor into the typical method of the AMP, and they were similar to the AMP used by Scherer & Lambert (2009). The second experiment used words as primes, which was different with the typical AMP in which pictures were used as primes. 126 and 57 undergraduate students participated in the experiment II and III respectively.
The aim of the first experiment was to discover whether people thought the old were more professional than the youth. The experiment assumed that old people had been more closely connected to the concept of “professional” “experienced” and so on. So the average reaction time for professional words after elderly primes would be shorter than after youthful primes. But the result didn’t show a remarkable difference in terms of the two reaction times. This result implied that participants didn’t consider old people being more competent than young ones in considering of profession. The age factor was significant in the second experiment and it indicated that the participants expressed more negative emotion to old people. The main effect and interaction effect of the context factor were both insignificant. It demonstrated the emotion elicited by elderly primes in the virtue context, common context and the profession context was very similar. The third experiment examined the implicit attitude of young participants to old people in three contexts of sport, number and family. The result indicated subjects showed more negative implicit attitudes toward elderly primes in all three contexts. And the result from horizontal comparison showed that even those targets after neutral number primes was seen as having a better implicit judgment than that after elderly primes. The last two experiments were between-subjects design in which it excluded the possibility of contrast effects when a very strong positive prime (the youthful prime) and a negative prime or a neutral prime (the elderly prime) were appeared together.
Finally, the participants in the experiment II and III expressed negative feeling toward elderly primes in all of the contexts. This result supported the idea of automatic processing stereotype. Participants did not regard old people as more competent than young people. And the result did not give a support to the conclusion that old people had more positive implicit attitude in terms of virtue. This is not identical with the SCM being based on the explicit methods.
Keywords implicit attitude      old people      AMP      context effect      automation     
Corresponding Authors: ZUO Bin   
Issue Date: 28 June 2012
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REN Na
ZUO Bin
HOU Fei-Xiang
WANG Guo-Ju
Cite this article:   
REN Na,ZUO Bin,HOU Fei-Xiang, et al. Context Effect or Automatic Process? The Implicit Attitude of Undergraduates to Old People[J]. , 2012, 44(6): 777-788.
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http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2012/V44/I6/777
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