I Can’t Believe She Said That! Oversharing Worsens as We Age, Study Finds

posted: 11/16/17
by: Amanda Mushro
Cheerful seniors telling jokes to each other through a tin can phone isolated on white background

If you have an older parent or grandparent that, as they age, seem to have lost their "filter" ---the ability to not say something offensive when in public or even overshare sensitive information with others--- you aren't imagining things. Turns out, as we age, that imaginary filter becomes thin and we begin oversharing sensitive information.

A new study says that as we age, the thinking skills that influence how we respond to people's points of view begin to deteriorate. So as we age, we are more likely to overshare in conversations. For the study, 100 people from the United States and United Kingdom were examined to see how their thinking skills changed over time. Participants, whose ages ranged from 17 to 84, took part in a series of computerized listening and visual tests to assess their thinking skills.

Researchers were looking to gauge participants' ability to focus on one thing and ignore another. They also examined the details that would be shared when describing certain situations. What researchers found was older participants were more likely to mention details that didn't matter or weren't relevant, and younger participants were less likely to overshare.

While the findings of this study are fascinating, researchers hope the information gathered will serve a greater purpose--to help warn older adults, who are often the target of scams, to protect themselves. "This is particularly important for older adults who are more susceptible to revealing private information," lead researcher Madeleine Long of the University of Edinburgh, said in the research statement. "We hope these findings can be used to design targeted training that helps older adults improve these skills and avoid embarrassing and potentially risky communicative errors."

So if grandma says something totally embarrassing at the next family function, there's no need to be embarrassed because it seems everyone's grandparents will be oversharing.