Age-Related Stigma and the Golden Section Hypothesis
Widrick, Rebekah M.
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SubjectIdentity (Psychology) in old age -- Research; Stigma (Social psychology) -- Research; Golden section; Aging -- Psychological aspects.; Older people -- Attitudes -- Research
The present study used the golden section hypothesis to examine age-related identities. The golden section hypothesis predicts that people will organize incoming information in a ratio-type pattern. When rating phenomena on bipolar constructs, people assign others to the positive pole of the constructs 61.8% of the time and to the negative pole the remaining 38.2% of the time. The present study predicted that people would rate identities of the aging population in accordance with a reverse golden section hypothesis. That is, people would assign negative ratings 61.8% of the time and positive ratings 38.2% of the time. Approximately 148 surveys were analyzed. Along the top of the golden section survey were 15 identities: child, elderly person, grandparent, middle-aged adult, nurse, musician, adolescent, senior citizen, business person, lawyer, secretary, mental patient, homeless person, retired person, and self. Along the left side of the survey were 12 adjective pairs: generous-stingy, pleasant-unpleasant, true-false, fairunfair,active-passive, energetic-lethargic, sharp-dull, excitable-calm, strong-weak, boldtimid, hard-soft, and rugged-delicate. Results indicated that elderly person and senior citizen were rated in a manner consistent with the reverse golden section hypothesis. In keeping with previous findings, the self was rated positively precisely 71% of the time while combined ratings of the remaining identities were consistent with the traditional golden section hypothesis. Finally, it was hypothesized that mental patient and homeless person together would produce a reverse golden section hypothesis, but this hypothesis was not supported. Findings shed light on society’s power to influence thought. Because American society has coupled aging with stigma, people have come to associate erroneous interpretations with certain age-related terms.