Evaluation of age-related labels by senior citizens
The age-related labels ‘third age’, ‘elderly’, ‘50+,’ ‘senior’ and ‘retired’ were evaluated by a 40+ sample. Results of a qualitative and quantitative study showed that the labels ‘third age’ and ‘elderly’ evoked predominantly negative associations, while the evaluations of the latter three age-related labels were generally positive. Cognitive age did not appear to possess explanatory power, but group membership (being retired or not, perceiving oneself as a senior or not) did. Moreover, a significant interaction effect between group membership and age emerged. When people did not belong or did not perceive themselves to belong to this age group, the evaluation of the label became more negative when the respondents approached the age to be eligible for group membership. After becoming or accepting to become part of the group, evaluations of the label increased again. On the basis of these results, an alternative stage model was proposed: status irrelevance, status rejection, status acceptance and status advocates.
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