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Youth Bias

 

Explanations > Theories > Youth Bias

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

We tend to think that the most important public (as opposed to personal) events happened in our youth, particularly between the ages of 10 and 30.

This seems related to the effects of memory and emotion, where we better remember events where we emotionally aroused. Maybe also there is a romanticising of youth, where difficulties are downplayed, although wars are often remembered.

Research

Koppel and Berntsen asked people about when significant public events happened during a person's lifetime. There was a huge bias toward the second and third decades of life for people over 33. Older people in this group mentioned the first decade more (10 and under). Younger people, under 33, were biased to the ages 16 to 20.

Example

Baby boomers born around the 1950s will probably think that the moon landing and Martin Luther King's famous Washington speech were particularly significant public events.

So What?

Using it

When you want to evoke nostalgia, go back to the teens and twenties of the other person. If they are much older, go back to their earlier childhood. If they are in their twenties, talk about what happened during their late teens.

Defending

When people talk about the past and you start joining in, watch what is happening. If their age is somewhat different to yours, yet they are talking about what happened during your earlier years, be suspicious.

See also

 

References

Koppel and Berntsen (2014)

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