Judging Communicative Competence: Investigating Age-Related Stereotypes in Speech-Language Pathology Students

Gordon, Jean K. and Cheimariou, Litsa and Taylor, Jessica (2014) Judging Communicative Competence: Investigating Age-Related Stereotypes in Speech-Language Pathology Students. [Clinical Aphasiology Paper]

[img] PDF

Download (174kB)


The proportion of the US population over age 65 is projected to reach almost 80 million by the year 2040, doubling the numbers from 2000 (Administration on Aging, 2012). With the aging of the population, the incidence of age-related diseases and disorders like stroke and dementia is expected to increase, adding to the caseloads of speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Most SLPs, by contrast, are younger adults; over a quarter of SLPs in the US are under age 35 (ASHA, 2012). Thus, as the elderly population grows, more intergenerational communication encounters will occur between SLPs and their aging clients, increasing demands for cultural competence, specifically with regard to ageism. However, the field of speech-language pathology has seen little research into the impact of age-related stereotypes on service delivery (Armstrong & McKechnie, 2003). One’s interactions with people are implicitly shaped by stereotypes, widely held unconscious representations of groups of people (Devine, 1989). According to the Age Stereotypes in Interaction model (Hummert, 2012), there are three main factors that trigger stereotypes: the perceiver’s self-system, the context of the interaction, and physical traits. ‘Self-system’ refers to one’s beliefs and attitudes, which are themselves determined by one’s age, cognitive complexity, and past experiences (Hummert, 2012; Ryan, 2007). Stereotypes can be reinforced by the context in which intergenerational encounters occur. To illustrate, Hummert and colleagues (1998) found that younger adults used different language when speaking to older adults in the hospital vs an apartment. Aspects of physical appearance (e.g. grey hair, stooped posture) create an immediate impression of the older individual (Adams et al., 2012). Using photographs, Hummert and colleagues (1997) found that adults perceived to be older were stereotyped more negatively than younger-looking adults. Negative stereotypes may, in turn, affect older adult’s responses, resulting in a cycle of reinforced stereotypes and negative interactions (Ryan, 2007). Williams and colleagues (2009) found that nurses who used ‘elderspeak’ met with more resistance to care in their patients with dementia. To prevent such negative interactions, SLPs must become aware of the potential impact of implicit age-related stereotypes. The purpose of this study was to determine whether SLP students are influenced by age-related stereotypes when judging the communication of older adults.

Item Type: Clinical Aphasiology Paper
Depositing User: Leo Johnson
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2015
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2016 15:13
Conference: Clinical Aphasiology Conference > Clinical Aphasiology Conference (2014 : 44th : St. Simons Island, GA : May 27-June 1, 2014
URI: http://aphasiology.pitt.edu/id/eprint/2547

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item