Young people are less likely to be ageist when their friends have friendships with older adults, research led by psychologists at the University of Kent has shown.
Even when young adults have no social contact with older adults in their everyday life, if they are aware of a friend who is friends with an older adult this can increase their positive attitudes towards older adults as a whole, the researchers found.
Psychologists Lisbeth Drury and Professor Dominic Abrams of Kent's School of Psychology, and Dr Paul Hutchison, London Metropolitan University, surveyed young adults to conduct the study, which is published online in the British Journal of Social Psychology.
Those responding indicated how often they had social contact with older adults, whether they experienced it as good contact, if they were aware of any friendships their friends had with older adults and how positively they felt towards older adults.
The researchers found that young adults who experienced good quality contact expressed less ageism towards older adults. More importantly, even young adults with no direct experience of older adults expressed less ageism when they knew of a friend that had a friendship with an older adult.
This indirect effect occurred because knowing that other young people in their close social network have positive relationships with older adults reduced young adults' anxieties about interacting with older adults and made such relationships seem more widespread and acceptable.
The research, entitled Direct and extended intergenerational contact and young people's attitudes towards older adults (Lisbeth Drury; Dr Paul Hutchison, Professor Dominic Abrams) was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, Age UK, and the South East Doctoral Training Centre. See: http://onlinelibrary.
For interview requests contact Martin Herrema at the University of Kent Press Office.
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Notes to editors
1.Lisbeth Drury is an ESRC-Age UK CASE doctoral student and Professor Dominic Abrams, FBA, is Director of the Centre for the Study of Group Processes at the University of Kent. Dr Paul Hutchison is a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University.
Note to editors
Established in 1965, the University of Kent -- the UK's European university -- now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.
It has been ranked: third for overall student satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey; 23rd in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016; and 22nd in the Complete University Guide 2015.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.
Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.
Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium.
The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.
In 2014, Kent received its second Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.