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When we perceive other people, there are three primary criteria upon which we automatically and initially categorize them: race, gender, and age. This categorization process follows from the natural tendency of the mind to categorize objects in its environment to facilitate everyday cognition and action. The categorization of others on these dimensions becomes so well learned that it is automatic in social perception. Unfortunately, while categorizing people according to these characteristics does indeed facilitate social cognition, it is also the first step in stereotyping of, and prejudice toward, groups. While researchers have long studied racism and sexism, they know comparatively little about prejudice against someone based on their age, referred to as ageism. While it is certainly true that people have prejudices and stereotypes about ...

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