Long-term effects on cognitive recall and attitudes of older adults participating in a tourism awareness program

Lynn Louise Woods


The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the growing population of older adults could retain information which is presented to them in an "incidental" fashion (information presented to them when they are not actively pursuing such information, but which is obtained as a by-product while they are engaged in another activity, such as attending a social club or church group). Specifically, the study sought to determine whether older adults can learn cognitively and attitudinally from a one-time exposure to a lecture and film, and, if so, whether these older adults could retain what they had learned over a long-term period (one month). The sample chosen for this study consisted of members of six American Association of Retired Persons (A.A.R.P.) groups and one church senior citizen group. The older adults were split into a control group and a treatment group and given a pretest. After receiving the treatment (a lecture and film on tourism), the treatment group was given an immediate posttest. One month later, the treatment participants were given a delayed posttest to determine if they had retained the information given the month before. The results were compared with the control group's (no treatment) delayed questionnaires. The control group had completed the survey (pretest) and then completed another set of surveys one month later (delayed). Findings showed that older adults can learn (cognitively and attitudinally) from information presented in an "incidental" fashion. In addition, they can retain what they have learned over a one-month period. Though small statistically significant differences were found in the attitude results, the largest change was found to be in the knowledge component. These findings confirm earlier studies which demonstrate that knowledge is malleable and easy to alter, but attitudes are much more difficult to amend.