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Pacific combats ageist thinking with new research project

Mar 28, 2018

Pacific's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is partnering with Pacific psychology students for intergenerational discussions on aging and a chance to participate in a research project.

The talks will be hosted by Dr. Carla Strickland-Hughes, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, and will provide opportunities for adults of all ages to increase their knowledge about aging and share diverse perspectives on different life stages. The goal is to enhance what we know about aging and provide positive experiences for psychology students and OLLI members. It is free for OLLI members to participate in the discussions.

OLLI participants and other OLLI members will be invited to volunteer in the research project on aging and the benefits of lifelong learning programs. Strickland-Hughes' previous research suggested that formal education about aging may lead to more positive attitudes about old age for younger adults, but the research did not include older participants. Other research suggested that negative attitudes about aging held by older adults may lead to decreased motivation, self-limiting behavior and low self-esteem.

When held by younger adults, these detrimental attitudes may lead to ageist thinking and behavior such as prejudiced thinking or discriminatory behavior toward older adults and lead to poorer age-related outcomes when they grow older themselves, including higher rates of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and worse performance on memory tasks. The discussions, research project and OLLI program are steps to combat ageist thinking and behavior for all generations.

The OLLI program is a nonprofit education program designed for people 50 and older, and open to all adult learners. OLLI at Pacific is one of 121 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes nationwide. Members explore academic and general interest classes in an atmosphere that is intellectually challenging, without the stress of tests or grades. For more information, visit

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