Social Skills May Decline As We Age, Research Suggests
Social skills and the ability to perceive social gaffes may decline with age, a University of Otago study suggests.
In the study, which included 121 participants, two age groups were represented: those 18 to 35, and those over 60. Each age group represented about half of the participants. Those participating in the study were shown scenes from the British television show, The Office, and asked to rate a certain character, David Brents, behavior during the clips. Of the sixteen clips shown, half depicted Brent acting normally, and the other half depicted him acting inappropriately in some way, or committing a noticeable faux pas.
The studys results show that those age 60 and over showed a significantly decreased ability to detect when a social blunder had been made.
During the study, researchers administered a gamut of tests to gain insight into the general cognitive ability of the participants, as well as their ability to recognize and react to emotions. The study also found those age 60 and over had a more difficult time recognizing different emotions, and that this directly correlated with their lesser ability to recognize social gaffes when they happened.
The University of Otago has conducted several studies before to observe the differences between younger and older age groups when it comes to recognizing facial expressions, as well as perceiving dangerous faces. However, this study on social blunders is the first of its kind conducted by this or any university.
About the study, Ted Ruffman, an associate professor who helped with the tests, said, The implication is that difficulties in spotting faux pas are related to difficulties in the social world,