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Older people and equalities

I recently wondered about how older people can have better mental health by feeling more included and keeping up to date with societal norms. Low and behold this research emerges below.

A recent study looked at belief in the malleability of opinions in older people. The authors suggest that a belief in the rigidity of older people’s views lead to a lower level of confrontation when older people espouse racist prejudice and this behaviour in turn could maintain these ageist and racist stereotypes.

In two studies, a case study vignette was considered by the participants where an individual of different gender and age demonstrated offensive views. Participants were more likely to hold views about perpetrators of racist sentiment which were age related e.g. “people of his age just don’t know what behaviour is considered prejudiced anymore”. There was most reluctance to challenge someone of 80 years plus and slightly less with those in their 60s  reducing with age. Most participants felt more able to challenge women.

Participants found the middle-aged perpetrator more offensive than the older or younger adult (still learning). The older male perpetrator was also seen,  as less malleable in his beliefs. There may be other factors at play such as a value about age-old respect  or norms about younger people confronting older people and the impact of gender.

People are leaving the workforce in their 50s and struggling to keep up with changing social norms including the growing and developing equalities legislation and norms. The digital skills training on offer from banks and charities really helped those out of the work force stay up to date and remain included in society. Never was this social benefit more evidenced, than in the Covid pandemic when many older people relied on the internet to stay in touch with families.

Can’t we support older people now with opportunities to update on fair treatment for all. An understanding of neurodiversity, disability, gender matters and racism as an annual refresher alongside pension increases might not be amiss?  And what about the younger generation? How can we learn to be respectful and nurturing so we can support older people to stay up to date and remain connected and included in society? Life long learning benefits everyone.

Read the paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin  full:

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