Academic paper: The Effect of Age-Stigma Concealment on Social Evaluations

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Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology
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Many older adults try to avoid age discrimination by hiding visible signs of aging. But using cosmetic procedures to conceal one’s age also incurs negative evaluations. This paradox prompted us to ask whether people can detect age concealment and, if so, whether they would either negatively evaluate concealers due to age-concealment stigmas or positively evaluate concealers because they look better. Across four studies with targets who underwent age-concealment procedures, we found that people could detect age concealment. Although people negatively evaluated concealers when thinking about them abstractly, they favored concealers over nonconcealers if they saw photos of them. Moreover, seeing photos of concealers improved subsequent evaluations of new concealers. The visual benefits of age-stigma concealment may therefore attenuate its stigma.

This paper was written by Laura Tian, Nadia Y. Bashir, Alison L. Chasteen & Nicholas O. Rule.

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