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If you’re in your 50s or older, chances are good that financial fraudsters have a big red target on your back. That’s because they think you’ve got money to steal and are more likely to fall for the common tricks they deploy to part you from it.

Researchers at Stanford recently analyzed one powerful trick that fraudsters use to persuade you to set aside your normal good judgment: emotional arousal. It turns out that it doesn’t matter whether you’re aroused by negative or positive emotions. In either case, older people are more likely to allow their emotions to cloud and overcome their logical decision-making abilities.

The Stanford researchers divided study participants into groups of older adults (ages 65 to 85) and younger adults (ages 30 to 40). They put them through a series of three different laboratory tasks that increased emotional arousal and then assessed participants’ responses to misleading advertisements.

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