Rigidity as a predictor of older persons’ aging stereotypes and aging self-perceptions

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Becca R. Levy
Cite this article:  Levy, B. (2008). Rigidity as a predictor of older persons’ aging stereotypes and aging self-perceptions. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 36(4), 559-570.


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Rigidity has been previously associated with the propensity of dominant group members to target stigmatized groups with negative stereotypes. It was considered in this study whether or not rigidity predicts that members of a stigmatized group, the elderly will target their own group with negative aging stereotypes; and, if so, whether these stereotypes predict aging self-perceptions, or thinking about themselves growing old. As expected (1) older individuals with more rigidity held significantly more negative aging stereotypes over time, (2) older individuals with more negative aging stereotypes had significantly more negative aging self-perceptions over time, and (3) negative aging stereotypes partially mediated the relationship between rigidity and negative aging self-perceptions. The sample of 405 community-living individuals, aged 50 or older, was studied in 6 waves over 20 years. The findings suggest that flexibility can benefit older individuals’ self-views.

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