—Some cognitive as well as physical functions are reduced as a function of age due to aging of the body and the brain. On the other hand, older people have broad life experiences that may serve as a resilience factor to help their abilities. The literature presents two opposite kinds of findings about cognitive ability. The main purpose of the present study is to determine whether theory of mind (ToM) ability and short-term memory are reduced or enhanced across the lifespan. A second purpose is to test gender differences. A study was conducted with 73 participants, 37 females and 36 males, whose ages ranged from 50 to 92 years. Participants were presented with a Reading the Mind in the Eyes test and a free recall task. The results suggest that the older the person, the lower his or her ToM and short-term memory abilities. Males’ ToM ability was found to be more impaired than that of females, whereas no difference was found in short-memory ability. Furthermore, aging and gender were found to be significant predictors of ToM ability. The present study is one of few that have been conducted to understand the ToM ability of older people. The findings support the claim that, like some other cognitive abilities, ToM ability is reduced during the aging process. These findings should be replicated by using other tools in order to strengthen the ecological validity of the results.
—Old age, memory, theory of mind (ToM), gender, cognitive function, reading the mind eyes test, short-term memory, free recall task.
S. Pearlman-Avnion and T. Muschinsky are with the Deparment of Education, Tel-Hai College, upper Galilee, 12210 Israel (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com).
J. N. Lazar is with is the Deparment of Psychology, Tel-Hai College, Upper Galilee, 12210 Israel (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cite: S. Pearlman-Avnion, J. N. Lazar, and T. Muschinsky, "Can Older People See Something Apart from Themselves?," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 6, no. 8, pp. 589-593, 2016.