Stereotypes of The Elderly

STEREOTYPES OF THE ELDERLY in Handbook of Communication & Aging Research chapter 4 Defining Stereotypes

Sociocultural perspective: generalized beliefs about a group that are widely held within a particular culture This perspective believes that stereotypes are bad Stereotypes are unconsciously adopted Stereotypes reinforce discrimination and prejudice Defining Stereotypes Psychodynamic perspective: Stereotypes serve a psychological defense function for the individual Research findings on this theory are equivocal to date (p. 107)

Defining Stereotypes Cognitive perspective: Person perception schemas based on a particular categorization principle, e.g., race, sex, age, and so on. Cognitive Perspective Acknowledges that stereotypes have a basis in

cultural beliefs, but argues that they exist only in the cognitive representations of individuals. Two people may hold similar stereotypes but the traits that constitute the stereotypes may not match exactly. Unlike the other perspectives, the cognitive perspective does not see stereotypes as inherently negative or used for psychological defense. Knowledge Structures According to the cognitive perspective, stereotypes are knowledge structures that people

use to help them process the mass of information in a typical social interaction. SomeTraits of the Elderly Represented in Stereotypes Memory decline Intellectual abilities decline

frugal ill-tempered sick wrinkled skin Increase in being wise Increase in being

dignified well read friendly honest mellow Multiple Stereotypes Adults of different ages may have different stereotypes of the elderly, some positive, some negative stereotypes, some made of more and

some less traits E.g., Golden Ager, Perfect Grandparent, Recluse, & Impaired The complexity of the stereotypes increased with subjects age. (p. 115) Three Conclusions 1: People have multiple stereotypes of the elderly, some of which are positive and some of which are negative.

2: Individuals in our culture have many of the same stereotypes of older adults, even though their cognitive representations of those stereotypes may vary at the trait level. 3: Elderly adults have more complex stereotype sets than do middle-aged and younger adults, and middle-aged adults have more complex stereotype sets than do young.

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