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Social psychologists look into age and prejudice

   This is Science Today. Is racial prejudice less common today or less socially acceptable? A study conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people don't get more prejudiced as they age, they are just less able to hide their feelings. Social psychologist Jeffrey Sherman says they assessed biases among whites towards blacks and found it was easier for younger people to pair pictures of black faces with positive words than it was for older people.

Sherman:    Why is it that as people age, they show more of this bias? And so, in particular we wanted to compare two different hypotheses. One was that as people get older they have more negative associations — this idea that older people grew up in a different cultural environment and maybe from the time they were young they just developed more negative associations with black people than younger people have.

Narrator:    Sherman says another hypothesis was that as people age, they lose some of their ability to regulate their automatic impulses and responses.

Sherman:    We found that the self-regulation explanation was the one that was supported by our analyses.

Narrator:    For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.