Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Finkelstein, Lisa M.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology




As workplaces become more age-diverse, it becomes increasingly important to better understand how metastereotypes influence cross-generational interactions. In the context of ageism, metastereotypes occur when a person of one age group perceives what they believe other age groups think about members of their age group. These perceptions have been found to influence interpersonal interactions, career planning, as well as retirement. Between the activation and the ultimate outcomes of age metastereotypes, there are likely affective reactions that occur before the measured outcomes. Based on a model of age metastereotypes, some of the reactions to age metastereotypes that may occur are challenge, threat, and boost. Challenge reactions refer to motivation to disprove a negative metastereotype. Threat refers to feelings of resignation and sadness at the possibility of confirming a negative metastereotype or being unable to live up to a positive metastereotype. Boost refers to an increase in confidence and positive feelings associated with positive metastereotype about one's group. The goal of this series of studies was to determine the relationship between metastereotype valence, perceived resources, and subsequent reactions and behavioral intentions in older workers and younger workers. This research presented workplace scenarios to examine factors such as valence of metastereotypes and perceived resources in determining the reactions to age metastereotypes and subsequent behavioral intentions. The results of these research studies found that compared to younger workers, older workers had reactions that showed distinctive patterns corresponding to the valence of metastereotypes and availability of resources. Both younger and older workers who experienced high threat reactions indicated greater intentions to engage with workers of different ages. Workers' reactions to age metastereotypes and subsequent behavioral intentions can influence interactions among coworkers of different ages.


Advisors: Lisa Finkelstein.||Committee members: Lacie Barber; James Burton; Amanda Durik; Brad Sagarin; Alecia Santuzzi.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


186 pages




Northern Illinois University

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