DOI: 10.1177/02654075231214005 ISSN: 0265-4075

Young adults’ experiences of ageism in the United Kingdom: Forms, sources, and associations with intergenerational attitudes

Craig Fowler, Jessica Gasiorek
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Communication
  • Social Psychology

Although previous research suggests that a large proportion of young adults experience ageism, information is scarce regarding exactly how often they encounter different forms of age-based discrimination. To address this lacuna, we recruited young adults from the U.K. to complete four weekly surveys in which they reported the number of days during the preceding week on which they experienced various forms of ageism. More than three-quarters of our respondents experienced some form of ageism at least once during the reporting period, and more than one-quarter of respondents experienced ageism (on average) at least once per week during the reporting period. The most oft-encountered forms of ageism encountered by young adults involved being shown a lack of respect/being patronized and having other people make assumptions about their cognitive or social characteristics. Most commonly, the perpetrators of ageism were middle-aged and later middle-aged persons (rather than older people) encountered in the course of employment. The number of days on which young adults experienced ageism was inversely correlated with the degree to which they believed middle-aged and later-middle aged adults held positive stereotypes of young adults, and positively predicted the desire to avoid interaction with middle-aged, late middle-aged, and older adults.

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