Monday, January 23, 2023

Dismiss Distractions from Interrupting Seniors

Interruptions in decision making are potentially problematic for consumers of all ages, but are especially disruptive for the elderly. The older brain has more difficulty recovering from the interruption to restore focus onto the intended task. University of Oregon studies detailed how the problem is due to advanced age slowing the brain’s ability to control the physiological gate which protects working memory from distractions. The experiments compared performance of younger adults—ranging in age from 18 to 28 years—with older adults—ranging in age from 65 to 80.
     Other researchers have seen distractibility in what’s called the cocktail party problem: Older adults have trouble understanding what someone is saying to them when many conversations are going on around them at the same time. Again, this is a problem for people of all ages, but of greater magnitude for seniors. The explanation in terms of brain physiology for this one concerns how the regions responsible for unconstrained thought are influenced by activity in the auditory cortex. Hearing loss, which necessitates more effort to understand phrases and is more common in the elderly than in younger adults, adds to the cocktail party problem.
     The implications for marketers when influencing seniors are to minimize interruptions and avoid auditory distractions such as other people talking and unnecessary sounds.
     At the same time, realize that the distractibility due to aging does have an upside—increased creativity. Elderly adults find it difficult to suppress intrusive thoughts. But intrusive thoughts provide a broader range of ideas when your objective is to be creative. A task commonly used by psychologists to assess creativity is to ask the person to think of as many uses as possible for a highly mundane object like a brick. The superiority of older adults on just such a task was documented in a set of University of Michigan studies. Not only that, but another group of older adults generated more creative recipes than did a group of younger adults when limited to using corn, carrots, and tomatoes.
     Also, although interruptions might hurt cognitive functioning, a certain sort of interruption enhances seniors’ physical functioning: High-intensity interval training, in which peddling at a moderate pace on a stationary bike is broken up with intervals of pushing hard, improves health of those at least 65 years of age more than does exercising consistently at a steady pace, suggests a Mayo Clinic study.

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Interrupt the Urge to Interrupt the Shopper 

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