2 types of ageism
- benign ageism
- subtle type of prejudice that arises out of the conscious and unconscious fears
and anxiety one has of growing old.
- malignant ageism
- more pernicious stereotyping process in which older people are regarded as
- like old-fashioned racism, one is less likely to see blatant examples of
malignant ageism in society today.
- hence benign ageism is much more common.
- patronizing language
- people with very positive attitudes toward older people often seem to
communicate with older people according to negative stereotypes about older
- 2 types of negative communication
- young individuals become overly polite, speak louder and slower,
exaggerate their intonations, have a higher pitch and talk in simple
sentences with elders.
- based on the stereotypes that older people have hearing
problems, decreasing intellect, and slower cognitive functioning
- baby talk (secondary)
- condescending form of overaccommodation
- simplified speech register, high pitch etc..
- older adults who have lower functional abilities see this as
soothing and nurturing quality
- older adults with higher functional abilities see this as
- patronizing behavior
- infantilization, one of the more pernicious stereotypes about older people, is the
belief that elders are like children because of their inferior mental and physical
- slow talk, simple words, help them with many things, do not consider
their opinion seriously.
- infantilization creates a self-fulfilling prophecy in that older people come to accept and
believe that they are no longer independent, contributing adults.
- acceptance of such role, result to a loss of self esteem.
- hence leading to these treatment to be maintained and reinforced. - older people then are faced with 3 negative consequences.
- social status of older people is diminished through the decrease in responsibility
and increased dependency.
- when society sees childlike behavior in an older person, it may feel justified in
its use of psychoactive medication, institutionalization, or declarations of legal
- political power of older people is reduced when older people come to believe
their ability and impact on society is limited.
- negative self-perception about again due to self-fulfilling prophecy influences overall
physical health and longevity.
- with positive self perception people live 7.5 on average longer than older people
with negative self-perception.
- self-fulfilling prophecy is aided by the looking glass self of social interactions, and what
you hear from family, friends, making you to start believe it yourself, which has an
effect on your self-concept.
- older adults who have been victim of ageism was rated as more helpless, weak, by
older raters compared to younger individuals.
- according to social identity theory, pats of self esteem is derived from group
- it is to protect one’s self-esteem which is to keep that group in high regard, and
the best way to do this is to derogate the unusual member and distinguish them
fro the group as a nonmember or a rare aberration.
- although ageism have negative effect on one’s self esteem
- not always the case.
- aging affects the self in 3 ways
- one develops a stable self concept, the longer one has lived, the more
opportunities one has had to test themselves over various situations.
- the reduction in the social roles one has as one gets older reduces the
possibility for conflict between various aspect of the self
- aging is not a difficult period of working to develop oneself but is a time of
simply maintaing one’s self roles, and abilities.
- hence older people who have very positive self images are resistant to
change or damage from others.
- vulnerability to ageism are associated with low self esteem or lack of defenses for the
- e.g. loss of physical capacity
- loss of control over one’s environment. Origins of ageism
- gerontophobia - a contributing factor to stereotyping and prejudice against older
- defined as an irrational feat, hatred, and hostility toward older people.
- it is a fear of one’s own aging and of death.
- because older persons are often associated with aging and dying, people
displace their fear of death into stereotypes and prejudice toward older people,
in an effort to distance themselves from death.
- age grading of society
- aka age stratification when society sets certain age to vote, drive a car, drink
alcohol, get married, and retire.
- have implicit and explicit expectations about behaviors that are expected
and appropriate at various ages.
- in some societies, older people are held in the highest respect, hold
positions of power and leadership - gerontocratic societies.
- according to the theory of modernization, older people have lost prestige and
respect as society has become more modernized.
- the fundamental structure of society changed.
- changed from extended family to nuclear family.
- older people no longer were a rarity due to the improvements of
medicine, hence their status diminished.
- according to the theory of idealism, the increasingly negative attitudes toward
older people did not come about with industrial revolution, but happened when
the american and french revolutions took place.
- due to social and political change that demanded quality and liberty,
elders do not hold superior status anymore.
- society do not value tradition as much as before, hence the decreased
perception of older adults’ status.
MAINTENANCE OF AGEISM
- functional perspective
- when people encounter others who represent threats to their self (for younger
persons, the older outgroup represent such a threat in that their undesirable
attributes represent a possible future for the young perceiver), their perceptions
of and behaviors toward the threatening individual are more likely to be
- follows the notion of possible selves.
- by reacting negatively to older people, their younger younger participants
were able to reduce the anxiety associated with considering older people as a future ingroup, hence through negative behavior, they are abl