age alone and in connection with other group memberships affects perception, cognition, and information processing. These investigations will also suggest interventions that can reduce stereotyping and prejudice against older adults.
A second theme emerging from the research is the importance of disambiguating behavior that stems from negative stereotypes from that which represents proper adaptations and accommodations to correlates of advanced age. This effort has been and will continue to be served by research that takes an adaptive approach to age differences in cognition, decoupling the myths and realities included in stereotypes of older adults and aging (e.g., Blanchard-Fields and Chen, 1996). The present review suggests, however, that much of this work on adaptive cognition has not yet penetrated many of the more robust negative stereotypes of older adults. Consequently, social psychological research on attitudes and attitude change may prove particularly important in communicating new findings about the actual capabilities of older adults to physicians, older-adult residential facility workers, employers, coworkers, and the general public. As with the problem of elderspeak, social psychologists, aging researchers, and practitioners can work together to devise messages, images, and interventions that provide accurate information about aging and older adults without promoting and reinforcing negative stereotypes.
Although the research on the attitudes of younger adults provides fruitful avenues for future investigations, research must also examine those of older adults as well. Consequently, the next section of our review examines the effects of age stigma on the self-perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of older adults.
In this section, we focus on older adults’ perspectives on aging. First, we examine the self-concept and identity of older adults. Next, we review the literature on self-stereotyping by older adults and its implications for mental and physical health. We then review the consequences of exposure to age stereotypes for older adults, considering cognitive, behavioral, and mental health outcomes. Last, we examine the coping strategies older adults use to contend with ageism.
The self-concept refers to a set of concepts that individuals have about their physical, psychological, and social attributes. The self-concept involves individuals’ evaluations of who they are, including their evaluations of abilities, competencies, successes, and failures. How do older adults