Eradication of Ageism Requires Addressing the

Eradication of Ageism Requires Addressing the - The...

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578 Copyright 2001 by The Gerontological Society of America The Gerontologist Vol. 41, No. 5, 578–579 T HE F ORUM The Gerontologist Eradication of Ageism Requires Addressing the Enemy Within Becca R. Levy, PhD 1 Dr. Palmore’s (2001) Ageism Survey is a much- needed contribution toward creating awareness about a form of prejudice and discrimination that has been largely ignored by our society. However, the survey omits measuring two components of ageism that have emerged from a series of recent findings. These stud- ies have found that ageism can operate (a) implicitly, or without awareness, and (b) in the form of aging self-stereotypes, or older individuals’ beliefs about the elderly population. To achieve Dr. Palmore’s goal of establishing an “‘epidemiology of ageism’ as a first step toward its eradication,” it seems that these two components might warrant consideration. Implicit Ageism The groundwork for current studies of implicit ageism was laid more than one hundred years ago by William James’s studies of automatic processes and Sigmund Freud’s exploration of the unconscious. Re- cent social psychological research has employed new techniques for studying these phenomena. Although the studies on implicit prejudice have focused on rac- ism and sexism, a growing number examine the op- eration of implicit ageism. Several aspects of implicit ageism deserve mention. First, “implicit ageism” is defined as the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward elderly people that exist and operate without conscious awareness or control, with the assumption that it forms the basis Banaji, in press). Second, every socialized individual who has internalized the age stereotypes of their culture is likely to engage in implicit ageism. Third, like explicit ageism, implicit ageism can be positive or negative; however, because most age stereotypes Johnson, 1988), implicit ageism also tends to be mostly negative (Perdue & Gurtman, 1990). A sur- vey of implicit ageism found that 95% of the partici- pants had negative views of old people; this is a higher proportion than for implicit racism or sexism (Banaji, 1999). A number of studies have found that a disassocia- tion exists between implicit and explicit measures of prejudice. That is, individuals who are opposed to racism or sexism on explicit surveys often demon- strate prejudice toward African Americans or women on implicit measures (Blair & Banaji, 1996; Das- gupta, McGhee, Greenwald, & Banaji, 2000; De- vine, 1989). My colleagues and I have found that re- gardless of individuals’ explicit views of aging, they can be influenced by negative implicit age stereotypes (Levy, 1996; Levy, Hausdorff, Hencke, & Wei, 2000; for a review of the primary forms of implicit mea- Banaji, in press). If individuals are not aware that a negative stereo-
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This note was uploaded on 01/24/2010 for the course PSYCHOLOGY PCO 4930 taught by Professor Perrin during the Fall '09 term at Florida State College.

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Eradication of Ageism Requires Addressing the - The...

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