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Is The ‘Boomer Stare’ Real?

The ‘Boomer stare’ is a trend that has taken off on TikTok, referring to a vacant stare that young people associate with baby boomers.

There is a theory that this generation’s ‘stereotypical’ behaviour can be traced back to exposure to lead in their childhood.

Assistant Professor at Michigan State University Ted Schwaba tells us if we can blame an entire generation’s behaviour on lead poisoning:

Assistant Professor at Michigan State University Ted Schwaba conducted a study on personality development across the lifespan of people who were exposed to lead.

“People who were exposed to more lead in childhood tended to be more disagreeable,” Shwaba says.

“And then in most of our analysis, they also tended to be a little bit less well organised when they were adults – they were less dutiful, responsible and conscientious.”

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Lead can be found in all sorts of things toys, cosmetics and soil, but the two big points of exposure historically have been paint and petrol.

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Like the US, Australia moved to ban lead paint in the 1970s, but we didn’t ban lead petrol fully until 2002.

Low-level ongoing exposure to lead can cause irritability, learning disabilities, lower IQ, behavioural problems and poor coordination.

But can this be attributed to the behaviour of an entire generation?

Schwaba says that this may be generalising and “weaponising age against people for something that might not be a generational difference when later generations reach that age.”

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