a new study focusing on how olders "should be"

I was excited to learn via Twitter that two Princeton researchers are charting a "new path for [the] study of ageism." Psychology professor Susan Fiske has been studying stereotypes for some time, and her approach focuses on prescriptive stereotypes (ones that describe how people “should be”): in this case that olders should cede jobs and prominent roles to youngers; that they should consume fewer scarce resources; and that they shouldn't attempt to act younger than they are.


aiming at ambivalence

I attended my first Age Boom Academy for journalists in 2008 and have returned several times since. This year was particularly rewarding, because now I’m able to put the speeches in context and because I’m honing in on a specific question: why are Americans, individually and collectively, so deaf to all but the negative messages about old age? After all, no one wants to die young, and no one disputes that the elimination of premature death is a remarkable achievement.

some interesting quotes from this year’s Age Boom seminar

On March 21-25 I attended the 12th annual Age Boom Academy, a seminar for journalists covering “the myths and realities of aging in America.”  Billed as a Joint Program by the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and the Columbia Journalism School, it was sponsored by the Atlantic Philanthropies, AARP and The New York Times and took place at Columbia.  (Previous Age Booms were held at the International Longevity Center and hosted by Bob Butler, whom I sorely missed. It was terrific and I’ll be writing about it more substantively, but in the meanwhile here are some thoughts from assorted speakers that stuck with me.

Some questions about ageism

This week I gave a mini-presentation to my colleagues at Yale’s Information Society Project. Below are some of the broad questions I put to them.

Stereotypes underlie all prejudice. As I point out in my Introduction, we call out racist and sexist attitudes but seldom question descriptions of older people as confused or feeble. In fact, variability is a hallmark of older populations. Why are ageist attitudes given a pass?