A research done at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland has revealed that the risk of oversharing information in a conversation or providing a listener with too much irrelevant information will increase as we grow older. The research explains that tests carried out on a group of 10 people showed thinking skills that influence how we respond to people’s point of view lessens with age.
The test saw linguists using a series of computerized listening and visual tests to gauge thinking skills in the group, whose ages ranged from 17 to 84 years old. The team then tested each participant’s attention skills – the ability to focus on one thing and ignore another – influenced their ability to consider a partner’s perspective in a conversation.
The researchers from both the Northwestern University in Illinois and the University of Edinburgh ran two listening tests to analyze two types of attention skills. First, they assessed inhibition or the ability to focus and ignore other distracting information. Then, they monitored switching – the ability to shift concentration between two different sounds and then filter the relevant information.
Researchers then asked participants to describe one of four objects to a partner who could only see three of the said objects. What researchers found out was that the older participants were more inclined to mention details about the hidden object, revealing irrelevant information to their partner.
The team of researchers also found an age-related decline in attention switching skills and that this ability determined how older adults responded and reacted to their partner’s perspective.
For younger adults in the group, their propensity to filter irrelevant and distracting information was what determined their ability to consider other’s perspectives more effectively.
Lead researchers also stated that their study identified two attentional functions that have an impact on whether we consider another’s perspective and how that changes as we grow older. This is especially important for older adults who are more prone to revealing private information. The team of researchers further went on to say that they hoped these findings can be used to formulate targeted training to help older adults improve these skills and avoid embarrassing and make potentially risky errors in their conversations.