Thursday, May 24, 2012
A Comprehensive Definition of Ageism
A Comprehensive Definition of Ageism1
This article is an extremely useful one as it encourages us to look carefully at what we mean by the term ageism. It is based on a review of ageist research projects and provides us with deeper meaning. I am going to reproduce and discuss a couple of paragraphs on page 15. The section is entitled “A comprehensive definition of Ageism. Then I will add some comments of my own.
“Our comprehensive definition of Ageism is as follows:
“Ageism is defined as negative or positive stereotypes, prejudice, and/or discrimination against (or advantage of) elderly people on the basis of their chronological age or on the basis of a perception of them as being ‘old’. Ageism can be implicit or explicit and can be expressed on a micro- meso- or macro-level.”
The concept includes the classic social psychological components in the form of; 1) cognitive (stereotypes), 2) affective (prejudice) and 3) behavioral components (discrimination); in other words, how we on the basis chronological age or age categorization mistakenly: 1) think about, 2) feel about, 3) and act toward the aging human. Furthermore, ageism can operate both consciously (explicitly) and unconsciously (implicitly); and it can manifest itself on three different levels: individual (micro-level), in social networks (meso-level), and institutional and cultural level (macro-level).
As a consequence the definition contains the following key dimensions:
The three classic components (the cognitive, affective and behavioral)
The positive/negative aspect (positive and negative ageism)
The conscious/unconscious aspect (implicit and explicit ageism)
The typological division of levels (ageism on micro-, meso- and macro level.
1 Iversen, T.N, (2009). A Conceptual Analysis of Ageism, Nordic Psychology Vol 61,(3) 4-22 DOI 10.1027/1901-22188.8.131.52