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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Causes Ageism

Certain types of personality are prejudice prone –Simpson and Yinger.  
The culture treats the old like a fag end of what was once good material – Max Lerner

         This material is word for word information from Erdman Palmore’s very interesting book.[i]  I highly recommend your purchase of it. It can be ordered online.
         There are three major causes of ageism: individual, social, and cultural. As the quotation above asserts, some personality types (such as the Authoritarian Personality) are prone to be prejudiced against old people, as well as other “minority groups.”  Also many individuals tend to suffer from “selective perception” in which they; perceive in which they perceive only those things that reinforce their prejudice. In this case, they recognize as old only the decrepit and senile people, while not perceiving the healthy, active elders as “old”.
         But probably the most important individual source of ageism is ignorance.  The average person is able to get correct only about half of the true-false items on Palmore’s “Facts of Aging Quiz.”  This means that they have about as many misconceptions about aging as correct information.
         Among the social causes of ageism, there is modernization theory (which assumes that with rapid modernization, old people get left behind as obsolete); increased competition (with increasing with increasing numbers of old people); self-fulfilling prophecies” (in which negative attitudes toward old people tend to result in actions which reinforce those attitudes.
         Among the cultural causes of ageism, there is the phenomenon of “blaming the victim” (in which old people are blamed for ageism against them); language (in which most of the meanings and connotations of words for “old” are negative); humor and songs s
(most of which reflect and reinforce negative attitudes to old people); and media (most of which also reinforce negative images.)
         In summary, the sources of ageism are so varied and so insidious that most people are hardly aware of it.

[i]  Older  Can Be Bolder: 101 Answers to your questions about Aging. ISBN             9781466249271

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