David Brent's antics may not make everyone cringe. A New Zealand study suggests those over the age of 60 have a harder time identifying social gaffes than younger adults.
Using clips from the hit British sitcom starring Ricky Gervais, researchers at the University of Otago asked 121 participants half over 60 and the rest aged between 18 and 35 to distinguish between inappropriate and appropriate behaviour.
Participants were shown clips from The Office and asked to rate whether the behaviour of Gervais' character David Brent was socially appropriate.
They were also tested on cognitive ability as well how well they recognised emotions expressed by facial expressions, vocally and through body language.
The study revealed that those over 60 were not as good at recognising the social faux pas of David Brent as the younger people.
"The difference isn't huge but it's there, and related to worsening emotional recognition," Ted Ruffman, an associate professor at the university's Department of Psychology told Reuters.
Previous research from the University of Otago has also shown that people over 60 are worse at recognising anger, sadness and often fear than younger adults.
Ruffman said the study was the first to examine age differences in detecting social gaffes while measuring emotional recognition skills.
"The implication is that difficulties in spotting faux pas are related to difficulties in the social world," he said.
The study was published in the US journal Psychology and Ageing.