A Daily Diary Study of Responses to Age Meta-stereotypes

Author ORCID Identifier

Lisa Finkelstein: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2903-7726

Courtney L Thomas: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6141-0340

Publication Title

Work, Aging and Retirement



Document Type



An age meta-stereotype occurs when we activate the idea that another age group is holding a stereotype of our age group, but what happens after this occurs? We used experience sampling methodology to explore reactions to, and subsequent behaviors associated with, positive and negative age meta-stereotypes occurring over the course of a work week. One hundred eighty-five employees from various organizations across the United States responded to a daily survey tapping into activation of positive and negative age meta-stereotypes, reactions (threat, challenge, or boost), and interpersonal behaviors (avoidance, conflict, and engagement). Hypotheses regarding relationships among reactions and behaviors were largely supported, but there were some unexpected findings regarding reactions to positive and negative age meta-stereotypes. Of particular interest: (a) younger respondents experienced more negative age meta-stereotypes than older respondents, even those that have been shown to be typically older meta-stereotypes, and (b) experiencing older negative meta-stereotypes, regardless of the age of the respondent, was related to challenge reactions while experiencing younger negative meta-stereotypes, regardless of the age of respondent, was related to threat. Our findings demonstrate advantages to studying age meta-stereotypes using experience sampling methods, and point to a need for more theoretical refinement to account for different reactions and behaviors depending on respondent age and type of meta-stereotype.

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Department of Psychology