ERIC Number: ED213066
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Feb
Reference Count: 0
The Older American Audience: How "Old" is "Older"?
McEdwards, Mary G.
A study was conducted to determine the meanings people give to certain words that describe different groups of people. Participants indicated the chronological age they have in mind when using 15 age terms, including baby, senior citizen, adolescent, infant, mature, elderly, youth, and old. The 150 replies to the questionnaire came from college students, members of community social clubs, secretaries, faculty, and residents of a retirement home. The results indicated that the stereotypes of the old, elderly, and aging are firmly entrenched in the communication and attitudes of many Americans. At least 14% of the respondents used the terms senior citizen and aged to include persons as young as 60 years of age. Most respondents used the terms senior citizen, elderly, old, and aged to describe people 70 years of age, while 79% considered middle-aged to be descriptive of the 40 to 50 age group. More of the respondents considered age 70 as "old" rather than choosing ages 75 and 80. There were no correlations between respondents' demographic factors (age, income, and education) and their answers to the age questions. (Following the report of the questionnaire results, an argument is made for developing better communication with persons in the second half of life by considering many more individual characteristics than mere chronological age. A copy of the questionnaire is provided.) (RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Denver, CO, February 19-23, 1982).