Thursday, January 03, 2013

Why are older people more susceptible to fraud?

From Castle et al: a succinct set of observations. Their data is quite compelling.
Older adults are disproportionately vulnerable to fraud, and federal agencies have speculated that excessive trust explains their greater vulnerability. Two studies, one behavioral and one using neuroimaging methodology, identified age differences in trust and their neural underpinnings. Older and younger adults rated faces high in trust cues similarly, but older adults perceived faces with cues to untrustworthiness to be significantly more trustworthy and approachable than younger adults. This age-related pattern was mirrored in neural activation to cues of trustworthiness. Whereas younger adults showed greater anterior insula activation to untrustworthy versus trustworthy faces, older adults showed muted activation of the anterior insula to untrustworthy faces. The insula has been shown to support interoceptive awareness that forms the basis of “gut feelings,” which represent expected risk and predict risk-avoidant behavior. Thus, a diminished “gut” response to cues of untrustworthiness may partially underlie older adults’ vulnerability to fraud.


  1. Do you think this is only from looking at faces? Or is this a tendency to lose the ability to have or realize "gut feelings" overall?

  2. I think they are suggesting a decline in ability to perceive and integrate 'gut feelings' that depend on interoceptive nerve receptors.