Recognizing a missing senior citizen in relation to experience with the elderly, demographic characteristics, and personality variables

  • Vicki S. GierEmail author
  • David S. Kreiner


We investigated participants’ ability to recognize a missing older adult featured in a mock Silver Alert. In Study 1, college students (N = 712) viewed a Silver Alert of a missing man and then attempted to recognize him when shown a set of photos. Overall recognition was high, with 84.6% of participants identifying the photo of the missing man. Self-reported experience with several older age groups was related to recognition of the target, and female participants were more likely than males to identify the target photo. Recognition of the target was not related to participant age, race, or measures of empathy or conscientiousness. A similar procedure was used in Study 2 with a sample of college students (N = 610), with the addition of measures of attitudes toward the elderly and face recognition ability, which were not found to be related to recognition of the target. Overall recognition rates were again high (83.90%), and participants who reported more experience with the elderly were again more likely to recognize the target. Metacognitive confidence ratings were higher in both studies for individuals who recognized the missing man. The findings suggest that Silver Alerts can be effective under certain circumstances. Further research is needed to investigate whether increasing experience with elderly populations could increase the efficacy of Silver Alerts.


Face recognition Silver alerts Individual differences 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

IRB Ethical Statement

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

“All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Mississippi State University Institutional Review Board and was given Exempt Category 4- Protocol ID: IRB-18492) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.” Compliance Administrator for the HRPP was Nicole Cobb.

Informed Consent

“Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.” There was absolutely no identifying information that would connect the participant with his/her data collected.


The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the [OSF] repository,


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mississippi State UniversityNorth MeridianUSA
  2. 2.Mississippi State UniversityWarrensburgUSA

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