Thursday, April 12, 2018

Forget Stereotypes of Seniors’ Memory Deficits

As a group, senior citizens remember facts less well than do younger adults. Conscientious retailers will take care to check that important information is understood well at the time the elderly consumer is making a purchase decision.
     The causes of the poor memory include deterioration in hearing and vision, less effective functioning of the brain at encoding and filtering information, reduced storage capacity in working memory, and slower retrieval. Although there are broad variations in the extent and nature of the memory impairments, all of them tend to grow as age progresses.
     However, researchers at Springfield College and University of Missouri say there’s another cause of poor memory performance which is quite reversible: The senior citizen’s belief that senior citizens have poor memory. Society’s prevailing view of the elderly as highly forgetful itself leads to their poorer performance in recall. The stereotype becomes the reality.
     An irony is that the effect shows up more as false memories than as the experience of forgetting. More often than saying they’ve forgotten a fact or where they learned a fact, seniors exposed to the stereotypes are mistaken in what they say they remember or where they learned it. This misplaced sense of certainty makes the effect even more treacherous.
     To reverse the effect when working with seniors:
  • At the same time that you are alert to the possibility of memory impairment in your customer or client, place more emphasis on the objective of the task than on it having to do with memory. 
  • Acknowledge correct memories by the consumer and give praise without being patronizing. 
  • When your shopper experiences a senior moment, where the experience is of a temporary mental lapse rather than a false memory, be patient, avoid embarrassment, and then move on. 
     Stereotypes about aging go beyond assumptions about memory, and they can influence the behavior of shoppers who are far from being elderly. Consider the classic study by John A. Bargh, Mark Chen, and Lara Burrows at New York University in which undergraduates exposed to terms like “old,” “retired,” and “wrinkle” as part of an assigned task walked more slowly when leaving the lab than did students not exposed to the words.
     The truth is that your senior citizen customers and clients do walk, think, and decide more slowly, on average, than their younger counterparts. The problem arises when a retailer stretches that to assume the senior is inept.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

Click below for more: 
Speak to Shoppers’ Language Stereotypes
Reexamine Retail Redlining Temptations
Build Each Customer’s Assertiveness

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