The purpose of this study was two-fold: to examine the relationship between various factors,
such as age, education level, knowledge about the aging process, and attitude towards aging, and
to find out if there were any significant differences between genders. Participants, which
included 60 women and 26 men, ranging in age from 18 to 94, completed a three-part on-line
survey. It was hypothesized that older participants and those with higher education, sociability,
and knowledgeable about the aging process would perceive growing older more favorably.
Results indicated a significant correlation between education and knowledge (p < .01), between
knowledge and attitude (p < .05), and between age and attitude (p < .05), which confirmed
previous research results. No significant gender differences were found in regards to knowledge
and attitude, but results revealed a very high correlation between chronological age and
perceived “old age” (p < .01).
Thanks to improved living conditions and advanced health care, most Americans enjoy
longer, healthier, and more productive lives than ever before (Mintel, 2004). This increased
longevity has prompted an explosion of research on the physical as well as psychological aspects
of aging. Results of these studies have revealed that a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids,
regular exercise, balanced hormone levels, and adequate sleep (UCSF, 2000, 2009) keep some of
the normal age-related physical and cognitive declines at bay. Staying intellectually tuned in and
socially engaged appear to be major contributors to successful aging as well (Garret, 2009).
Although the largest growing segment of the American population is the 85+ group
(Taylor, 2007), we live in a youth-oriented society, where “getting old” is not desired. Prejudicial
attitudes and discriminatory practices towards seniors, also known as “ageism” (McContha,
Schnell, Volkein, Riley, & Leach, 2003) have caused some elderly to feel unwanted, to be
unwilling to seek needed services and health care, and to withdraw from society. Many people
dread getting older because they don't have positive views on aging; this seems to be caused by
their belief in negative stereotypes, which have been perpetuated by the media for decades (Glass
To measure knowledge and common misconceptions about aging, Dr. Erdman Palmore
designed the first “Facts on Aging Quiz” (1988). Results of his and similar quizzes have
suggested that many people believe numerous myths about the elderly, reinforcing negative
attitudes toward “getting old.” Glass and Knott (1984) designed a 12-hour workshop, named
“Facts and Fiction About Aging,” to study whether giving a more realistic and optimistic spin on
aging through imagery, music, and hands-on art, could alter some of the negative age-related
stereotypes. Before and after questionnaires showed that such workshops could improve opinions
about aging. Only in recent years has an attempt been made by companies that cater to the older
population, such as investment firms, senior living communities, and health care companies like
Kaiser Permanente, to make the public more receptive towards aging through “feel-good”
television commercials. Even though lyrics like “When I grow up, I want to be an old woman”
have most probably evoked some smiles, one might wonder how many years it will take to
convince the current baby-boomers and the next generations to truly believe that “old” is “great.”
Research by Levy (2003) suggest that active participation in society through clubs and
volunteering, and physical activity contribute to a more positive attitude towards aging. Despite
the fact that certain physical and cognitive declines are a normal part of aging (Garret, 2009) and
numerous studies have documented that all segments of society hold negative attitudes towards
aging (Glass & Knott, 1984), many seniors over 65 report living a fulfilling life. This sounds like
a paradox, but it is plausible that the seniors who respond to age-related questionnaires, possess
several of the above-mentioned characteristics, thus solving this mystery.
The objective of this survey was to examine whether there was a relationship between
various factors, such as age, education levels, knowledge of the aging process and attitude
towards aging. Based on previous research I hypothesized that older participants, and those with
higher education, sociability, and knowledgeable about the aging process would perceive
growing older more favorably. Out of curiosity I also wanted to find out if there were gender
differences in regards to knowledge about and attitude towards aging, and whether there was a
significant positive correlation between chronological age and perceived “old age.”
Participants in this study included 60 females and 26 males between the ages of 18 and
74. All participants were part of convenience sampling; while most were invited to complete the
survey via electronic mail (an easy link to the correct site was provided), some participants were
my classmates in Psychology 018 at Evergreen Valley College, whom I personally encouraged to
The survey was posted on the Internet; it included a welcome message, 27 questions, and
a thank you note (Appendix). The survey section consisted of three parts; the first part
encompassed demographics, sociability, and personal satisfaction questions (part A), the second
part attempted to gauge the participants' knowledge of the aging process (part B), and the last
part asked about their personal feeling towards growing older (part C).
This was a non-experimental study that looked for several correlations and differences.
The variables in this study were gender, education, attitude towards aging, knowledge of the
aging process, sociability, and chronological and perceived old age. Participants completed the
survey using any computer. First they were informed about anonymity, risks and benefits, age
requirements, and their right to quit at any time. After filling out the survey, a parting message
revealed the aim of the study. The participants were thanked and given an e-mail address for
further inquiry about the findings if so desired.
Only the data of fully-completed surveys (86 of 92) were included in this study. A higher
sociability score meant that the participant was more involved with friends and activities (part
A), more knowledge was represented by a lower number (8 - 48) on the questions in part B , and
for attitude a lower number (7 - 42) meant a more positive attitude towards aging (part C).
A Pearson correlation between sociability and attitude towards aging was not significant
with r (84) = - 0.04, p > .05, two-tailed. A Pearson correlation between educational level and
knowledge about aging was found to be significant with r (84) = - 2.6, p < .05, two-tailed. A
Spearman correlation between knowledge and attitude towards aging was found to be highly
significant with ρ (84) = 0.59, p < .01, two-tailed. A Spearman correlation between age and
attitude towards aging was also found to be significant with ρ (84) = - 0.31, p < .05, two-tailed.
When gender and attitude were compared, females (M = 23.58, SD = 6.5) and males (M = 22.19,
SD = 4.44) had very similar values. A 2 sample t-test showed that there was no significant
difference in attitude towards aging between genders, t (84)= -1.15, p > .05. Likewise, when
gender and knowledge about the aging process were compared, females (M = 17.57, SD = 5.46)
and males (M = 17.81, SD = 4.6) had almost identical values. Once again, a 2 sample t-test
showed that there was no significant difference in knowledge between genders, t (84)= 0.21, p
> .05. A Pearson correlation between chronological age and perceived “old age” was found to be
highly significant with r (84) = 0.48, p < .01, two-tailed. The mean “old age” was 71, and the
Contrary to previous research and one of my hypotheses, participants who reported more
social involvement did not perceive aging more favorably; older participants however, did have a
more positive attitude towards aging, which confirmed my prediction. The results of this survey
also supported my hypothesis that higher education and knowledge about aging go hand in hand,
and people with more knowledge are very likely to have a much more positive outlook on aging.
No significant gender differences were found in regards to knowledge of and attitude towards
aging, but as the chronological age of the respondent climbed, the perceived “old age” also
shifted upwards, indicating a strong positive correlation.
There were some limitations in this study; despite the large sample size, it did not
represent the general population as approximately 70% were females, 74% of the participants
had an AA degree or higher, and over 41% of them reported a household income of $80,000 or
more. Because this sample appears privileged, extrapolating the findings of this survey to the
general population would not be advisable.
Although the questions were carefully chosen, responses on the statement “60 is the new
40” were incorporated in the attitude score, and therefore should have been included in part C
rather than in part B. The last questions of the survey was a compound question, which hindered
interpretation. In future surveys I would use better phrasing, make the questions more specific,
Because of the way the answers were calibrated, the findings came out counterintuitive;
as a result data analysis was unnecessarily complicated and the plots were hard to read. Careful
consideration when assigning values to Likert scale answers might make the final data much
Taking previous research and this study's findings into account, there is enough evidence
to suggest that as people become better informed on the process of aging, their attitude towards
growing older would most likely improve. Distributing a brochure, emphasizing the positive
aspects of aging and dispelling the myths, could possibly help change the general public's
stereotypical views and make for a happier group of retirees.
Garrett, B. (2009). Brain & behavior: An introduction to biological psychology (2nd ed.).
Glass, J. C. & Knott, E. S. (1984). Middle age: A time for thinking about being old. eJournal of Extension, 22 (1), Article 1FEA4. Retrieved May 3, 2009, from http://www.joe.org/joe /
Levy, Becca R. (2003). Conscious Versus Unconscious Levels of Aging Self-Stereotypes:
Author's Reply. Journal of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sci ences and Social Sciences, 57, 215-216. Retrieved May2, 2009, from http://psychosoc.gerontologyjournal
McContha, J. T., Schnell, F., Volkein, K., Riley, L., & Leach, E. (2003). Attitudes toward aging:
A comparative analysis of young adults from the United States and Germany.International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 57 (3), 203-215. Abstract
retrieved May 2, 2009, from ERIC database.
Mintel International Group Ltd. (2004, March). Attitudes towards aging. Abstract Retrieved May
Palmore, E. B. (1988). The facts on aging quiz: A handbook of uses and results. New York:
Taylor, Liz (2007, November 5). Our new attitude towards aging – and some changes to reflect
it. The Seattle Times. Retrieved may 2, 2009, from
University Of California, San Francisco (2000, June 1). Hormone replacement therapy may
protect against cognitive decline in women 65 and older who have certain genetic make-
up. Science Daily. Retrieved April 18, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/
University of California - San Francisco (2007, July 17). Poor sleep associated with cognitive
decline in elderly women. Science Daily. Retrieved April 18, 2009, from
In this study, you will be presented with several questions about you and about aging.
This research is completely anonymous. You will not be asked to provide your name. There are
no inherent risks or benefits to participating in this study beyond the contribution you will be
making to cumulative psychological science. Your choice to participate in this research is
completely voluntary. You are free to withdraw from the study at any time, and your decision to
withdraw will have no penalty to you. However, if you leave before completing the survey, we
If you agree to these conditions, and you are at least 18, please proceed with the study.
Saskia Stockbroekx-Pinto firstname.lastname@example.org
This study has been approved by the instructor for Psychology 018 at Evergreen Valley
College. Contact: J. David Eisenberg email@example.com
4. What is your highest educational level?
7. How many hours a week are you physically active? (gym, walking, dancing, gardening.)
8. How many hours do you actively participate in hobbies or volunteering on a weekly basis?
9. How many friends (outside of work) do you keep contact with on a weekly basis?
10. How would you describe your life experience? (health, looks, spendable income,
I am unhappy with most aspects of my life
1. Most older people are chronically ill.
The same 6 point Likert scale was used for all remaining questions.
2. Older people are financial burdens on society.
3. Elderly can be productive workers.
4. The majority of people over 65 are senile.
5. As people grow older their intelligence declines significantly.
7. In general most old people are alike.
8. Older people adapt well to new environment.
9. In regards to aging, after 50 it is nothing but downhill.
Part C: Tell us about your personal journey.
1. As I get older, my opinion about “old age” has become more positive.
The same 6 point Likert scale was used for all remaining questions.
2. As time goes on, I feel more anxious about “getting older”,
3. I look forward to my later years in life.
4. I will do anything to hide signs of aging by using hair dyes, anti-wrinkle creams. And other
5. I would never consider using Viagra or other products that could enhance the sexual
6. I expect or have experienced some declines as I get older but I am not too worried about it.
In this study you were asked some personal and some age-related questions. We are
trying to find out if attitude towards aging changes with age, if there are gender differences, and
if knowledge about the aging process or higher education and income levels influence the
Thank you for your participation! If you would like to see the results of this survey, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org after 1 June, 2009
WHO Issues Guidelines for Antiviral Treatment of H1N1 and Other Influenza CME/CE News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD CME Author: Laurie Barclay, MD CME/CE Released: 08/27/2009; Valid for credit through 08/27/2010 August 27, 2009 — The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidelines for antiviral treatment of novel influenza A (H1N1) and other influenza. The purpose of the new recommend
Jungheinrich Nominated for German “Ecodesign 2013” Award As the sole intralogistics firm to make it to the nominating stage, Hamburg-based Jungheinrich has received a certificate of nomination for its mass-production implementation of lithium-ion technology in industrial trucks. On November 11, 2013 Jungheinrich was officially honoured for its EJE 112i – the world’s first mass-produced i