PSYC12H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Cognitive Dissonance, Ageism, Industrial Revolution

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Published on 11 Apr 2017
School
UTSC
Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC12H3
PSYC12: Chapter 7 – Ageism
Butler (1969) coined the term ageism: stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination based on age
(perceived or actual age of the target).
Typically, ageism refers with respect to stereotyping and prejudice against older people, however, this is
juvenile ageism, which is about stereotypes about young people.
Our society tends to pro-youth and anti-aging; both young and older people have easy access to
stereotypes about aging, but access to stereotypes about the young is more limited.
WHY AGEISM?
Why is ageism special in textbook?
oThere is a focus on baby boomers because there is a large spike in population; society is moving
to address the issues and concerns of older baby boomers who retire and enter their “golden
years”.
oA lack of attention from researchers in the past, primary focus has been on sexism & racism
(ageism is the third “ism”).
oThe aging process represents a unique set of factors.
DOES AGEISM REALLY EXIST?
In 1950s, some data suggests ageism is not a valid, reliable phenomenon, while others suggest it is valid
 equal number of researchers have indicated ageism exists in the U.S and that it doesn’t exist.
Two approaches in dealing with the issues of how to measure ageism:
oAsked participants to indicate their attitudes toward “older people” in general (found ageism
exist)
oAsked participants to indicate their attitudes toward specific older individual (tend to find
positive attitudes toward older persons)
Why are the results different?
oThe way the question is asked has a major impact on the answers people give
o Different conceptions of “older people” are evoked when one accesses a generic prototype of
older people
oIf asked to give your impression of a specific person, it is harder to see or recall confirmatory
evidence of a negative stereotype (especially when people are asked to give their attitudes
about an older person, thus the overall impression is a positive one)
People endorse two opposing impressions of older person because of subcategorization.
Since people are “cognitive misers”, they are reluctant to abandon stereotypes because stereotypes
require little effortful cognition and get social perception done fast.
oWhen faced with the cognitive dissonance of having a negative attitude toward older people in
general and having an older friend, loved one, or relative, people may be inclined to create a
subcategory for their friend or relative no dissonance about their old friend and they get to
keep their stereotype of older people as a group.
Brewer (1981) found that people have a generally negative view of the subordinate category “older
people”, but they have several subcategories of older people.
oInformation about the elderly person tends to be organized in terms of these subcategories, and
not according to the superordinate age category.
oWe do not have further specific information that allows us to place the individual in a
subcategory, the superordinate category is used as a kind of default for thinking about the
individual and stereotypes.
Schmidt & Boland (1986): sorted out 99 personality traits into groups.
oTold participants to place into each group all the traits that would be found within the same
older person.
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oFound a mixture negative subcategories and positive subcategories of elderly, with twice as
many negative as positive subcategories.
Overall, more negative attitudes towards older people than toward younger  in the U.S. society has far
fewer positive terms for older people, which indicates ageism.
People have multiple, contradictory view of older people  one’s attitude toward older people demands
in large part on how the attitude is solicited.
People mostly have positive views of “specific” older person, but more negative, stereotyped, views of
older people as a group.
AGE STEREOTYPES: CONTENT & USE
Two types of ageism:
oBenign Ageism: subtle type of prejudice that arises out of one’s conscious and unconscious fears
and anxiety of growing old.
More common than malignant ageism because of its subtle nature, similar to “old-
fashioned” racism
oMalignant Ageism: a more negative stereotyping process in which older people are regarded as
worthless.
Old is perceived as being virtually synonymous with decline and loss of physical & mental capacities –
stereotypes about the elderly suggest that older people are tired, slow, ill, forgetful, uniformed, isolated,
and unproductive; “warm but incompetent”.
Ageism is fostered by the focus on youth and all the characteristics of youth in American.
POSITIVE ATTITUDES AND POSITIVE STEREOTYPES
Bell (1992): found media (tv portrayals) of older people have changed in positive ways over the decades.
oIn the past, older people were portrayed as stubborn, foolish, comical, now, they are portrayed
as active, admired, powerful, affluent, and sexy  these positive views are termed “positive
stereotypes”
Palmore (1999): positive stereotypes are indicative of “positive ageism”, which is prejudice and
discrimination in favor of the aged.
oPositive ageism assumes that older people are in need of special care, treatment, or economic
assistance.
But constitute age discrimination when any special discounts, benefits, or treatments
that are available only to older persons and not to younger persons.
o8 common positive stereotypes people have of older people: kind, happy, wise, dependable,
affluent, politically powerful, enjoying more freedom, and trying to retain their youth.
Reality is that older persons are as likely as younger people to have these characteristics
– however, people generally have more negative views of older people and of aging.
oWell-intentioned, positive stereotypes of older people termed “pseudopositive attitudes” can
lead to patronizing language and behaviour toward older people and a loss of self-esteem in
older persons.
EFFECTS OF PSEUDOPOSITIVE ATTIDUES
Patronizing Language:
People with positive attitudes toward older people seem to communicate with older people
Two major types of negative communication:
oOveraccommodation: A type of behaviour by younger individuals toward older persons, in
which the younger person is overly polite and speaks louder and slower, exaggerate their
intonation, have a higher pitch, and talk in simpler sentences.
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This is based on the stereotype that older people have hearing problems, decreasing
intellect, and slower cognitive functioning.
It also manifests itself in the downplaying of serious thoughts, concerns, and feelings
expressed by older people
What triggers this overaccomodation speech style was the age of the individual.
oBaby Talk: A simplified speech register with exaggerated information. When directed at pets,
children, or inanimate objects, it is called “primary baby talk”. When directed at older persons, it
is referred to as “secondary baby talk”.
Baby talk” is a more negative, condescending form of overaccomodation, it is a
simplified speech register with high pitch and exaggerated intonation’
Caporeal (1986) found that participants were unable to distinguish between the two
types of baby talk, which indicates that the only thing hat distinguished secondary baby
talk from primary baby talk is the content.
Secondary baby talk is ageist and insulting because it connotes a dependency
relationship; it appears to be associated with the stereotype that all older persons have
deficits in cognitive abilities and thus needs special communication at a slower, simpler
level.
Cross-cultural research indicates both primary and secondary baby talk appears to be
universal, occurring in small preliterate societies & in modern industrialized cities.
Patronizing Behaviour:
Many people regard old age as a time of decreased function & ability, and any positive changes in
intellect and health lie in one’s past, rather than the future  life, growth, vitality lie in past.
Infantilization: The belief that older persons are like children, because of their perceived inferior mental
and physical ability (i.e., talk slower, use simpler word, help them with things).
oThe reason to offer to help an older person per cross the road because there is a misconstrue
that the offer suggests that they “need” help since older people are perceived as incompetent
and impaired in their ability to perform tasks.
However, by offering help it may harm one’s self-esteem and sense of competence &
freedom, when help is not needed  people with high self-esteem are much less lively to
request help than those with lower self-esteem.
Patronizing behaviour and even well-intended offers of assistance can have negative consequences for
the self-esteem of the older individual.
Effects of Pseudopositive Attitudes on Older People:
Infantilization creates a self-fulfilling prophecy in that older people come to accept and believe that they
are no longer independent, contributing adults.
oWhen older people come to believe and act according to age myths and stereotypes, such
stereotypes and treatment are maintained and reinforced.
The acceptance of a passive, dependent role and loss of self-esteem in an older individual occurs
gradually over the course of their life as they are continually exposed to society’s subtle and not-so-
subtle infantilization of older people.
Three negative consequences in accepting child-life role in older people:
1) Social status of older people is diminished through decrease in responsibility and increased
dependency.
2) When society sees child-like behaviour in an older person, others may feel justified in the use of
psychoactive medication, institutionalization, or declarations of legal incompetency.
3) Political power of older people is reduced when older people come to believe their ability and
impact on society is limited.
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Document Summary

Butler (1969) coined the term ageism: stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination based on age (perceived or actual age of the target). Typically, ageism refers with respect to stereotyping and prejudice against older people, however, this is juvenile ageism, which is about stereotypes about young people. Our society tends to pro-youth and anti-aging; both young and older people have easy access to stereotypes about aging, but access to stereotypes about the young is more limited. In 1950s, some data suggests ageism is not a valid, reliable phenomenon, while others suggest it is valid. Equal number of researchers have indicated ageism exists in the u. s and that it doesn"t exist. People endorse two opposing impressions of older person because of subcategorization. Overall, more negative attitudes towards older people than toward younger in the u. s. society has far fewer positive terms for older people, which indicates ageism.

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