Lecture 9: Ageism & Sexism
Evidence for ageism
Origin of ageism
Origin of sexism
Effects of sexism
Ambivalent and Hostile Sexism
Course Evaluation period—please complete course evaluation!
Next week is last class!
Review for final in 2nd part of class
Prepare with questions
Bonus reaction papers due next week
April 4th, 5pm; late papers will not be accepted
Ageism: Stereotypes, prejudice, & discrimination based on age
Unlike other “isms”, it is more explicit and easier to see.
Seen in media where there’s preference for younger adults.
It’s a cultural norm (its okay) in our culture to make fun of older people apparently.
Facets of Ageism
Although largely applied to older adults, can also apply to the young—juvenile ageism
In terms of maturity, you’re a full adult. Yet there we have rules of what juveniles can and can’t do.
Example of juvenile ageism: in states, an 18yo can enlist in the army BUT can’t drink alcohol.
Importance of studying elderly: Elderly population will double by 2030
Because of this large cohort of people, the amount of people that will be considered elderly will double by
Unlike other prejudices, elderly are out-group that will one day (hopefully!) become in-group
Currently having negative views about the elderly can negatively affect your health and quality of life
when you are elderly.
What form does ageism take?
Patronizing language – “babying the elderly”
Overaccomodation. Eg) Talking louder to an elderly, despite him/her having perfect hearing.
Infantalization – eg) when a perfectly capable elderly is walked across the street by a boy scout.
Assumption of physical and mental deterioration – with the way everyone treats an elderly person, they
may start to believe that they are physically and mentally deteriorating. This belief will then cause them
to become less physically and mentally capable.
Perdue & Gurtman, 1990
Do people have negative associations with elderly?
If so, are these associations implicit/automatic?
Evaluative priming task
“Old” vs. “Young” subliminally primed (55 ms) Positive vs. Negative traits presented after prime
DV: RT to words (faster RT = stronger association)
Evaluative Priming Task
Old is primed for 55ms and then selfish is presented.
The faster you are to categ a word as bad if it follows the priming world “old”
Young is primed for 55ms (a good thing). Since selfish is opposite of good, you should be slower to
identify it as good or bad.
RT to positive and negative traits as a function of the priming word
They think young things are good.
Reaction time is longer when negative traits followed a young prime
RT is faster when negative traits followed Old prime
RT is faster when positive trait followed young prime
RT time is longer when positive trait followed Old prime
Negative words are more associated with old than with young
Positive words are less associated with old than with young
Is this out-group bias?
What does this have to do with people?
I-clicker: which of the following are problems with the Gurtman et al. study on implicit attitudes towards the
Answer: Results may not generalize to social evaluations
Origins of ageism
Societal age grading
There were distinct categories of which age you would hang out with when you were younger (e.g. gr 5
never hung out with gr. 1)
Age is salient in our society
Dominance of youth culture
A lot of marketing and ads are geared towards younger people.
Media. Examples of ageism in media:
Ad stating “after a few days on the trail, you’ll begin to admire her beauty”
The implicit joke is that the model is not attractive bc she is old.
Ad for lighting shows an old person under normal lights vs a younger person under club lights
Relates young with better lighting.
Ad for Trebbianno hand bags, “Seen enough old bags? Try a new bag”
Fear of Death, thus we’re exhibit ageism
Psych’s Terror Management theory
We will all die! But we don’t want to face this. Thus, we deny mortality.
No one wants to think about this eventuality. Older people are reminders of this. Since we don’t want to be
reminded of this future death, we create some sort of cognitive dissonance with them.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeUtCxe-xDg 3min30s watch! It’s really funny
it’s funny because we all know we are going to die yet he is explicitly denying it here. Martens et al., 2004
1. Given instinct for self-preservation, people want to deny death or reminders of death
2. People find elderly threatening because they are reminders of own death
3. Elderly out-group bias (ageism) is product of this mortality salience
Self-stereotype: Internalization of societal beliefs about the traits associated with one’s group
Development of ageist self-stereotypes
Ubiquity of elderly stereotypes (even among children are aware of it)
Elderly stereotypes can operate below awareness
When young become old, and identify with elderly in-group, the stereotype that was held for a lifetime
You may have elderly stereotypes, but when you become old, you internalize(believe) those same
Effects of ageist self-stereotypes (Levy, 2003; Levy, 2009)
Longitudinal studies show that people (18-49 years) with positive self-perceptions-of-aging. Asked them
questions about the quality of life of the elderly. Then looked at them when they were older.
Reported better health up to 20-40 years later when they had positive stereotypes about the elderly.
Fewer heart attacks, strokes, angina, etc.
Those with Positive attitudes about the elderly lived 7.5 years longer
Low cholesterol and exercise improve lifespan by 4 years
Mental & physical deterioration is not inevitable; can be self-fulfilling
It is a fact that memory does tend to deteriorate with age. Though this occurs farther into one’s life, it