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Beliefs about Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease in Three Domains*

  • Tiana B. Rust (a1) and Sheree T. Kwong See (a1)

This repeated measures study examined undergraduate students’ beliefs about aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the cognitive, social, and physical domains. Students rated typical 25-year-olds (young target), typical 75-year-olds (old target), and typical institutionalized persons with AD (AD target) on 46 statements about cognitive, physical, and social abilities. Beliefs about aging were found to be generally negative in the cognitive and physical domains but positive in the social domain, consistent with the age-stereotyping literature. Interestingly, by comparing ratings of old and AD targets, beliefs were found to be generally negative in the cognitive and social domains but positive in the physical domain. AD is perceived to be a disease primarily of the mind, but in comparison to differences expected with aging, physical prowess is enhanced. Documenting beliefs, a first step toward modifying stereotyped behaviour, could have significant effects on the health and well-being of older adults and persons with AD.

Cette étude des mesures répétées a examiné les croyances des étudiants de premier cycle concernant le vieillissement et la maladie d’Alzheimer (MA) dans les domaines cognitifs, physiques et socials. Les étudiants ont evalué les personnes typiques de 25 ans (cible jeune), les personnes typiques de 75 ans (cible vieux), et les personnes institutionnalisées typiques avec MA (MA cible) sur 46 déclarations sur les capacités cognitives, physiques et sociaux. Croyances sur le vieillissement se sont avérés pour être généralement négative dans les domaines cognitifs et physiques mais positive dans le domaine social, ce qui est compatible avec la littérature des stéréo-types de l’âge. La maladie d’Alzheimer est perçu comme une maladie essentiellement de l’esprit, mais on croit, qu’en comparaison avec les différences prévues au vieillissement, que la prouesse physique est renforcée. Documenter les croyances, un premier pas vers la modification des comportements stéréotypes, pourrait avoir des effets significatifs sur la santé et le bien-être des personnes agées et des personnes atteintes de MA.

Corresponding author
Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: Tiana Rust, M.Sc., P217 Biological Sciences Bldg, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Canada, T6G 2E9 (
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These data formed T. Rust’s master’s thesis, and some of these data were previously presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association on Gerontology in Halifax, NS (October 2005). This research was supported by Alzheimer Care Research Grant G599000875 to T. Rust and S. Kwong See; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council G124130227 to S. Kwong See; and Dr. Peter N. McCracken Legacy Scholarship, Gyro Club of Edmonton Graduate Scholarship, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship to T. Rust. We thank Sharon So and Stephanie Heath for their assistance with data entry.

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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-on-aging-la-revue-canadienne-du-vieillissement
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