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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Continue Combating Ageism

Stereotypes Applied to Self and Others is Ageism[i]

2. Going Beyond the Stereotypes of Aging
         Fighting Ageism begins at home. We need to “Recognize that a label like “elderly” or “seniors” tells us little about what to expect from a person; including ourselves. Continuing the quote “ These labels do not tell us whether the person including ourselves is kind or uncaring, healthy or unhealthy or has diminishing health, mentally capable or mentally incapable, a reliable or an unreliable worker or volunteer incapable. Labels do not tell us about the person’s capacity for friendship or creativity or friendship.”
         How shall we define self-stereotyping? When we go to the Internet to find out, as I’m doing more frequently, we find out that.  “The term self-stereotyping was coined as part of self categorization theory and describes a process by which a perceiver will come to see themselves in a way more consistent with stereotypes about their in-group than they otherwise would. Self-stereotyping may be seen as an outcome of depersonalization where the self is viewed as a categorically interchangeable member of the salient in-group.”
         Here is the Attitudes Towards Own Aging subscale, which contains the following items:
1.    Things keep getting worse as I get older.
2.    I have as much pep as I did last year.”
3.    As you get older you are less useful.
4.    I am as happy now as when I was younger,
5.    As I get older things are (better, worse, or the same) as I thought they would be.

         Now a good question is how we develop stereotypes and how do we get rid of them. “We stereotype people when we are unable or unwilling to obtain all of the information we need to make a fair judgement about people or situations.  In the absence of the so called 'total picture,' to stereotype people in many cases allows us to 'fill in the missing pieces of information."  That’s fine but how does that explain self-stereotyping?

          “But what is less commonly known—or at least considered—is that we apply the exact same process to ourselves, often without realizing we are doing it: how we think about our own selves is largely determined by how we think others think of us—how we are perceived, judged, and evaluated by the outside world.”

“Stereotype threat in aging
         “One area where effects of self-stereotyping play out to quite dramatic effect is aging. It is typically thought that as people age, their memories grow worse and their cognitive abilities suffer a general decline. And unfortunately, that type of thinking seems to actually affect how the elderly actually think and remember. Studies have shown that when aging stereotypes are activated, older adults actually begin to exhibit larger memory deficits and worse performance on tests of cognitive ability. But, the news isn’t all bad: the opposite is also true. When such stereotypes are given less weight, memory and cognitive performance both improve”[ii]

[i]  Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
[ii]  Information with quotation mark found on the internet.

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