The effect of age differences in motivation on mental health information processing and help-seeking attitudes and intentions in younger versus older adults
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Changes in motivation and goals over the lifespan as posited by Carstensen’s Socioemotional Selectivity Theory (1993) have shown to effect information processing and memory, such that motivation-consistent information is more likely to be remembered and evaluated more positively by young and older adults. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of motivation-consistent mental health information on memory for and evaluations of this information as well as attitudes towards mental health services and intentions to seek these services. An Internet-based sample of 160 younger (18-25) and 175 older adults (60+) were randomly assigned to read a mental health information pamphlet that emphasized motivations relevant to either early adulthood or late adulthood. Participants completed measures assessing memory for and subjective evaluation of the pamphlet, and attitudes towards and intentions to seek mental health services. There was no significant interaction between age group and pamphlet version on any of the variables measured; suggesting that designing and implementing motivation-consistent mental health information for different age groups confers little benefit with respect to information retention, as well as attitudes and intentions toward seeking professional psychological help.