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C12: chp 7

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Michael Inzlicht

PSYC12 Chapter 7 Chapter 7: Ageism • Ageism: stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination based on age- stereotyping and prejudice against older people DOES AGEISM REALLY EXIST? • Some people endorse two opposing impressions of older persons • People are “cognitive misers”- they are often reluctant to abandon stereotypes because stereotypes require little effortful cognition but they still get the job of social perception done fast • When faced with cognititve desonance of having a neg attitude toward older ppl in general and having an older friend, loved one, people may be inclined to create subcategory for their friend. This allows ppl to hav the best of both worlds: no dissonance about their older friend and they get to tkeep their stereotype of older ppl as a group. AGE STEREOTYPES: CONTENT AND USE • Benign ageism- a subtle type of prejudice that arises out of the conscious and unconscious fears and anxiety one has of growing old • Malignant ageism- a more pernicious ster/ process in which older ppl are regarded as worthless • Research suggests that Americans regard older adults as “warm but incompetent”. Such perception lead them to treat older ppl with pity, but not respect POSITIVE ATTITUDES AND POSITIVE STEREOTYPES • Bell found that media, in particular, TV portrayals of older ppl have changed in positive ways over the decades • Older lead characters in 1989’s most-wathced programs were portrayed as active, admired, powerful etc. Bell concludes that these pos/ views- “positive stereotyps”- of older ppl are improvement and they help to reverse the past neg/ ster of older ppl • Palmore suggest that such pos/ ster/ are indicative over “positive ageism,” which is prejudice and disc/ in favour or the aged • Pos ageism assumes that older ppl are in need of special care, treatment, or economic assistance • Palmore identified eight common pos/ ster/ ppl have of older ppl. Older ppl are believed to be kind, happy, wise, dependable, affluent, politically powerful, enjoying more freedom and trying to retain their youth. However there is little evidence to support the factual basis of any of these ster • There is much evidence to suggest that well-intentioned, pos/ ster/ of older ppl- what Palmore terms “pseudopositive attitudes” – can lead to patronizing language and beh/ toward older ppl and a loss of self-esteem in older persons EFFECTS OF PSEUDOPOSITIVE ATTITUDES Patronizing Language • 2 major types of neg/ communication have been identified by researchers: overaccommodation and baby talk PSYC12 Chapter 7 o Overaccomodation: younger ind/ become overly polite, speak louder and shower, exaggerate their intonation, have a higher pitch, and talk in simple sentences with elders. This is based on the ster/ that older ppl have hearing problems, slower cognitive functioning. o It also manifests itself in the downplaying of serious thoughts, concerns, and feelings expressed by them o Baby talk is “simplified speech register with high pitch and exaggerated intonation” o Ppl often use it to talk to babies but such intonation is also used when talking to pets, inanimate objects and adults Patronizing Behavior • Infantilization, one of the more pernicious ster/ about older ppl, is the belief that elders are like children because of their inferior mental and physical ability • Ex. Boy and girl scouts helping an older person across the street- many experiments in the altruism literature suggest that the reason the offer to help another can be misconstrued is that the offer implicitly suggests to the target that they need help • Patronizing beh 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 • According to Arluke and Levin, infantilization creates a self-fulfilling prophecy in that older ppl come to accept and believe that they are no longer independent, contributing adults • When older ppl come to believe and act accord to these age myths and ster/, such ster and treatment are maintained and reinforced • Arluke and Levin argue that by accepting such a role and the childlike beh/ that accompanies such acceptance, older ppl are faced with three negative consequence: 1. The social status of older ppl is diminished through the crease in responsibility and increased dependency 2. When society sees childlike beh/ in an older person, it may feel justified in its use of psychoactive medication, institutionalization, or declarations of legal incompetency 3. The political power of older ppl is reduced when older ppl come to believe their ability and impact on society is limited • Cooley said- a major part of who we are, who we believe our “self” is, is derived from our social interactions and the feedback about our self that others give us • If you hear frm your family, friends, soc, and even professionals is overt and subtle ways that you are an older person with decreased abilities, you may start to believe it yourself • Patronizing talk also affects the way elders view other elders • The easiest way to protect one’s self-esteem is to keep that group in high regard, and the best way to do this is to derogate the unusual member and distinguish them from the group as a non-member or a rare aberration PSYC12 Chapter 7 • Interestingly, research suggests that the self-esteem scores of older ppl living independently in the community tend to be almost double the scores found in high-school students • Aging affects the self in three ways: 1) One develops a stable self-concept, 2) The reduction in the social roles one has as one gets older reduces the possibility for conflict between various aspects of the self, 3) Aging is not a difficult period of working to develop oneself but is a time of simply maintaining one’s self, roles, and abilities AGEISM IN THE HELPING PROFESSIONS • Research has shown that counsellors, educators, and other professionals are just as likely as other individuals to be prejudiced against older ppl • Levenson suggests that the medical community implicitly trains its doctors to treat patients with an age bias, putting little value on geriatrics in the medical-school curriculum, and approaching the treatment of older ppl with noticeable degree of apathy or even disdain • According to Levenson, doctor
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