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before for the next 10 or 15 years. Don’t you want to build the kind of society that will be welcoming to you in the future? One of the great ironies of doing this type of research is that we don't really get why these attitudes are so persistently negative. We are doing some intervention work to


see what can make people more positively disposed. Previous experience, knowing more older adults, interacting more with grandparents—this helps create more positive attitudes. That's called the contact hypothesis: If you simply have contact with a group that people think negatively about, your attitudes should improve. It looks like


that will ultimately be the most powerful intervention, but there are other theories. One is about countering stereotypical


examples: If you saw an older adult run an ultramarathon, maybe you would believe older adulthood is full of possibilities. An- other is perspective taking, where we have people think about what it's like to be an older adult. Another is priming things: Can you override the way people associate words and ideas about older adults? But it looks like these are not good ways to change this. It looks like contact is driving good attitudes. We just came out with two studies, one looking at how attitudes toward older adults


vary across cultures, and one within the United States: What states held the most negative attitudes or the most positive atti- tudes toward older adults? Some places are more age-friendly than others. It can vary quite dramatically. The really


interesting thing is that these attitudes are linked to how sick older adults are, how long they live, and how much they spend on Medicare per person. If the goal is to build a more inclusive soci-


ety, where people feel welcome and accepted and feel like they can move about their envi- ronments, it looks like some places need more work than others at the moment.


IMPLICIT AGE BIAS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WA MT OR ID WY NV CA UT CO KS AZ NM AK HI TX OK MO AR MS LA FL AL GA


Most Biased


NE IA IL OH IN KY TN SC WV VA NC DC SD ND MN WI MI PA MD DE NY NJ VT NH MA CT RI ME


Least Biased


Internalized stereotypes about older adults—that they are less competent and more frail, for instance—can affect not only quality of life, but older people’s physical and mental health. Hannah L. Giasson, Stanford, and William Chopik, Michigan State, looked at data from more than 800,000 respondents across the United States to find these variations in implicit age bias. Also, Chopik says, they confirmed their thoughts that states with high implicit age bias would also have higher rates of health problems and higher Medicare spending. The full study is in the European Journal of Social Psychology.


In another study, done with MSU post-baccalaureate researcher Lindsay Ackerman and published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Chopnik looked at age bias in different culture. Countries whose cultures had greater individualism were associated with “greater implicit bias, explicit bias, and less warmth toward older adults.” Cultures with greater collectivism showed less implicit and explicit age bias and greater feelings of warmth toward older adults.


JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 ARGENTUM.ORG 33


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