A Study Into the Effects of Inhibition and Emotion on Perspective-Taking in Younger and Older Adults
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A decline in Theory of Mind (ToM) perspective-taking abilities in old age is thought to result from an inability to inhibit the self-perspective. Such reduced inhibitory capacities in old age could also impact upon an attentional reorienting and selection processes thought to be required to successfully move from the self to the other perspective in a ToM task. We sought to investigate both of these hypotheses by administering modified versions of Samson et al.’s (2005) high and low inhibition condition false-belief tasks to young and old participants (N=59), introducing affective conditions through use of positive, negative, and neutrally affective stimuli. Results indicated a general age effect on performance across all conditions in the false-belief tasks, with no further interactions or between-subject effects to report. However, each inhibition task-type was failed for different reasons in older participants. High-inhibition tasks were failed due to apparent inability to inhibit the self-perspective whilst low inhibition tasks were failed due to an inability to utilise the information that the woman had being deceived when making a judgement on one’s own perspective. These results provide further support for the importance of inhibitory control when selecting the appropriate perspective in ToM abilities.