Systematic Stereotypes Of The Elderly

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Systematic Stereotypes Of The Elderly



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Stereotypes of the elderly

Stein et al. It was found that memory performance was undermined among those older adults who were negatively primed and unaware of the primes. In addition to these short-term effects on performance, Levy et al. In this study on responses to hypothetical medical situations, older adults who were subconsciously exposed to negative stereotype primes were less likely to accept medical treatment that could prolong their life.

In , Levy et al. Although this study did not use implicit priming, the authors speculated that such findings could have health-behavior consequences, such as older adults not seeking assistance from health professionals due to their belief that hearing loss is a normal and inevitable part of the aging process [ 36 ]. They found that, over a year period, individuals with more negative age stereotypes showed significantly worse memory performance compared to those who held less negative age stereotypes and emphasized the robust impact self-relevance has on the effects of stereotypes [ 37 ]. This finding supports the view that because older adults are often exposed to negative stereotyping, through everyday interactions in the community and health care settings, this constant exposure may serve as a negative prime which can activate internalized negative age stereotypes [ 38 ].

To understand how these internal mechanisms operate alongside external factors in the environment, researchers have drawn on stereotype threat theory with a focus on the effects of explicitly activating negative stereotypes of aging. Stereotype threat theory proposes that presenting familiar negative stereotypes associated with a certain group threatens this group into a scenario where they fear reaffirming these negative depictions [ 39 — 42 ]. Studies using explicit rather than implicit priming techniques have found mostly similar yet some conflicting effects of aging stereotypes on physical and cognitive performance, as shown below.

Most studies underpinned by stereotype threat theory have examined memory or cognitive performance of older adults [ 12 ]. The relationship between stereotype threat and regressions in memory performance has been found among older adults who were explicitly primed with a negative stereotype in the way the task was framed [ 43 — 45 ], especially among those who were greatly invested in their memory ability or had high levels of education [ 46 — 48 ]. However, Horton et al. A more recent meta-analysis of age-based stereotype threat and effects on performance among older people average They found a significant, yet small-to-medium, effect size of 0.

Lamont et al. The inclusion of unpublished studies in this review allowed for a comprehensive analysis of age-based stereotype threat effects which stresses that this threat is a real problem which older people face, especially within formal test contexts. Also, Hess et al. Scholl and Sabat [ 52 ] argue that to decrease the impact of stereotype threat individuals need to experience a sense of perceived control over the situation which can be achieved by giving older individuals autonomy over personal decisions regarding their health, aiding in the development of more internal health locus of control and motivation to seek out preventative health measures.

In terms of broader health outcomes related to stereotype threat, Coudin and Alexopoulos [ 53 ] examined the effects of explicit negative stereotype activation i. This study highlighted the role of interpersonal and situational factors for inducing dependency among older adults. In support, Burgess et al. On the other hand and in line with the Hess et al. This study tested 99 older adults on six dependent measures, namely, memory recall, reaction time, grip strength, flexibility, walking speed, and self-concept.

Horton et al. This study showed the importance of understanding how individual older adults respond differently to stereotypes, as well as how they individually perceive their own aging. From a sociological and qualitative perspective, Dionigi and colleagues have found downward social comparison to be typical amongst highly active older adults. On one hand, this finding represents an active resistance to aging stereotypes, which can be personally empowering, but on the other hand it reinforces ageism and the individual and cultural fear of ill health in old age by positioning ill health in old age as undesirable or irrational, rather than a natural process [ 4 , 23 ]. This resistance could be a form of denial of the physiological realities of the aging process, which could be maladaptive to overall health and a sense of identity in later life [ 4 , 56 ].

Qualitative research findings highlight the complexity inherent in trying to make sense of multidimensional concepts such as perceptions and stereotypes of aging. For example, research by Dionigi et al. In other words, even though these women held high expectations and positive views of their own aging and positive stereotypes of old age, it did not mean they were more likely to engage in preventative health behaviors, such as physical activity, in later life.

Recently, there has been a call for a more culturally relevant, domain-specific, gender-specific, multidirectional, and multidimensional perspective of aging experiences, feelings, and perceptions [ 5 , 24 , 57 — 60 ]. With regard to gender differences, a quantitative study by Schafer and Shippee [ 58 ] found that feeling older led to more negative views about cognitive aging among women, but not men, aged 55 years and over. More studies on differences between men and women with regard to the effects of stereotypes on health outcomes are needed.

In , Miche et al. Similarly, a review by Diehl et al. Diehl et al. These findings question the emphasis in gerontology on the relationship between functional ability and health in later life. The following review will focus on findings that have emerged from experimental studies primarily related to the effects of positive stereotypes of aging on the health of older adults. Preliminary evidence suggests that implicit positive stereotype primes can improve performance in older individuals [ 16 ].

The latter finding led to the assumption that positive primes may act as a buffer to the effects of negative stereotypes [ 28 ]. In addition, Levy et al. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that implicit positive primes will always lead to improved performance in older adults. Nevertheless, researchers have begun to examine if experimentally making people feel younger will result in improvements in physical and mental performance. Experimental studies on the potential for stereotype boost effects with older adults emerged in Swift et al. They found that, compared with the control condition, the enhancing social comparison boosted performance among the older adults [ 61 ]. Making upward, rather than downward, social comparisons has multiple likely effects on the health behaviors of older individuals [ 63 ].

On the one hand, upward social comparisons, such as comparison with authentic older people who are active and healthy, highlight what is possible in later life which can motivate individuals to become more active themselves and counteract the development of negative self-stereotypes of aging [ 3 ]. For example, for already moderately active older adults, older sportspeople may inspire them to become even more active [ 15 , 63 , 65 ]. On the other hand, if highly active, healthy older people are perceived as unrealistic representations of what is likely in later life, such representations can intimidate others, produce feelings of guilt and anxiety amongst older adults who cannot or do not want to meet that standard, and discourage people from engaging in certain health-related behaviors [ 3 , 64 , 65 ].

The fact that Hess et al. These findings question the assumption that explicitly priming older adults with positive stereotypes will have a positive impact on their performance and overall health; however, these results remain contentious. This is particularly important in contemporary Western culture because more positive depictions of aging as a period of ongoing activity and health are emerging [ 4 ]. This is because a narrative approach to aging makes ordinary, individual life stories explicit, which can work to breakdown generalizations or stereotypes about aging [ 66 ]. This review of literature on the effects of stereotypes of aging on the health of older adults has highlighted that while valuable knowledge has been gained, such as the finding that both positive and negative stereotypes of aging can be problematic for health, more research in this area is necessary.

On the other hand, they found that older adults who had more positive interactions and communication with younger people were not affected by the performance decrements resulting from patronizing communication. This is a major limitation in the interpretation of all stereotype related research within aging populations. Finally, it is important to mention that older adults are often members of multiple stereotyped groups, such as being older, female, and from an ethnic minority or being older, male, and disabled, or being older and from a sexual minority group [ 72 ].

Therefore, further research is needed to explore the effects of stereotypes on the health of older adults who belong to more than one stereotyped group. For example, from a psychosocial perspective research could determine if there is a cumulative effect of stereotyping that leads to greater vulnerability or a developed immunity in place that leads to resilience in later life [ 55 ]. From a sociological perspective research could examine how intersections of racism, sexism, heterosexism, cultural diversity, and ageism affect the lives of a diverse range of older individuals [ 73 ]. All of the above outcomes have the potential to affect the holistic health i. The author declares that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Article of the Year Award: Outstanding research contributions of , as selected by our Chief Editors. Read the winning articles. Academic Editor: Tiffany F. Received 05 Aug Revised 13 Oct Accepted 25 Oct Published 12 Nov Abstract The purpose of this review is to present findings on the effects of stereotypes of aging on health outcomes related to older adults, such as physical and mental functioning specifically and overall well-being and perceived quality of life more broadly.

Introduction Aging is a highly individualized and complex process; yet it continues to be stereotyped, especially in Western cultures. How Stereotypes Work to Affect Health While physical and cognitive declines in later life can be explained in physiological terms, psychosocial and sociocultural factors also play a key role in this process. Stereotype Activation and Longitudinal Studies 3. Explicit Priming of Stereotypes of Aging and Stereotype Threat Studies using explicit rather than implicit priming techniques have found mostly similar yet some conflicting effects of aging stereotypes on physical and cognitive performance, as shown below.

Downward Social Comparison and Resilience Theory From a sociological and qualitative perspective, Dionigi and colleagues have found downward social comparison to be typical amongst highly active older adults. Emerging Qualitative Research Findings Qualitative research findings highlight the complexity inherent in trying to make sense of multidimensional concepts such as perceptions and stereotypes of aging. Implicit Priming of Positive Stereotypes of Aging and Internalization Preliminary evidence suggests that implicit positive stereotype primes can improve performance in older individuals [ 16 ]. Explicit Priming of Positive Stereotypes of Aging and Stereotype Boost Experimental studies on the potential for stereotype boost effects with older adults emerged in Limitations of Stereotype Research in Aging Contexts This review of literature on the effects of stereotypes of aging on the health of older adults has highlighted that while valuable knowledge has been gained, such as the finding that both positive and negative stereotypes of aging can be problematic for health, more research in this area is necessary.

Conflict of Interests The author declares that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper. References S. Horton, J. Baker, and J. Ory, M. Hoffman, M. Hawkins, B. Sanner, and R. Dionigi and S. Gibson and J. Visible minority immigrants with professional qualifications trained outside of Canada often encounter barriers in the Canadian labour force Basran and Zong, Two themes have emerged in the literature. The first focuses primarily on individual barriers experienced by foreign-trained professional immigrants, arguing that immigrants who wish to work in Canada must acquire the equivalence in terms of Canadian standards.

For example, Ornstein and Sharma posit that an inadequate command of English, and a lack of Canadian experience render immigrants ill-suited candidates for a variety of jobs. According to an analysis of the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada LSIC by Chui and Tran, 26 percent of immigrants between 44 years of age reported that a lack of Canadian work experience was a fundamental problem in seeking employment in the first two years after their arrival.

Counting both variables our metric would messy the translation of any conclusions that we may make. Another real issue affecting Canada 's wellbeing is migration. In Toronto, Ontario, where its is one of the least healthy regions in Canada, compared with other well-being regions, numerous immigrants with documented human administrations don 't for the most part achieve an issue however some are undocumented pros that do acknowledge issues.

While under the strain of the aforementioned unemployment discrepancies, minorities also suffer from income inequality, and systematic discrimination, earning 81 cents to the dollar in relation to a non-ethnic counterpart in A major issue to prejudiced Canadians, regards the native tax exemption, many believing that aboriginals are extremely privileged. All Canadians have to pay taxes, there are just various situations that can be cause to pay lower taxes. Aboriginals with status are merely eligible to avoid taxes on reserve property. In Canada, particularly out west, the statistic for Indigenous population is high. Canadians have put Indigenous communities through much heartache and pain.

With the decolonization of the different communities of Indigenous people to residential schools, Canadians continue to stigmatize and treat Indigenous people scantily. Age is looked at as a failure; something to be feared. There is this tendency to try and hide the aging process by dying ones hair, or using cosmetic surgery. The media has idolized youth and frowned upon the aging. Essays Essays FlashCards. Browse Essays. Out of this group, 53 million of them are still employed and in the workforce. Another common stereotype that older people have is that they do not know how to use technology such as a smart phone or a computer.

Besides the AARP, many phone companies only show younger people using smartphones while they show elderly people still using flip phones. Many large advertisers and imaging companies, such as Getty Images, have also noticed that there is a need to show elderly people living active lives. At one point in history, most people did not live above the age of 45, and those who did were very frail and could not live an independent life. In addition, in the past few decades, medicine was not as advanced as it used to be so many elderly people were being diagnosed with severe medical problems that prevented them from living normally. Arthritis is a very common condition that elderly people have and at one point, there was very few medications that could effectively control it.

Due to this, elderly people could not move around very well because of joint pain and were reduced to staying at home. However, with the advancement of medicine today, there are many options for people to control their arthritis and other conditions that may have prevented them from living an active lifestyle. Many initiatives have been implemented in efforts to change the popular beliefs of elderly people. I think this message is especially important because aging is a beautiful thing and not something to be ashamed or worried about.

These negative beliefs that are tied to getting older is what makes people going through this process fear being seen as incompetent and disabled. The constant stereotypes can make people fearful about their inevitable fate of aging and be afraid of having these stereotypes come to fruition. However, as we have seen from the statistics previously and even in the real world, many elderly people are more active and present in society than even some younger groups.

Many are keeping up to date with the latest technology, are still working and enjoying life. Some makeup companies are beginning to see this and are using elderly people in their advertisements to promote their products Hsu, Common negative stereotypes include women being bad drivers or bad at math, and older people are incapable of keeping up in a rather fast paced society. The worst thing that people can feel when it comes to stereotypes is that they are living up to them and proving them correct.

It is important that people note that stereotypes are strictly just words and have no bearing on who they are as an individual. This way, we can collectively move away from negative generalizations about groups and focus more on getting to know people individually.

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