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Authors: Wangler, Julian
Jansky, Michael
Title: Media portrayal of old age and its effects on attitudes in older people : findings from a series of studies
Online publication date: 26-Jan-2024
Year of first publication: 2023
Language: english
Abstract: Mass media portrayal of old age plays a great role in social perceptions of aging. However, there are hardly any empirical findings on the effects on recipients or to what extent this can change attitudes, especially amongst older people. Three types of media portrayals of old age in German news magazines were determined and used as stimulus material. In 2020, 910 participants (from 60 years) were confronted with different age frames in the course of a quasi-experimental survey. In order to substantiate the results, in 2022, 36 focused interviews were conducted with older people each of whom was presented with an age frame. This article links the central findings of both studies, with a focus on the qualitative study. The survey results showed that presenting a negative age frame led to an improvement in the self-image of old age whereas the public image of old age deteriorated significantly. After presenting a positive frame, the public image improved greatly while the self-image decreased. The interviews confirm these results. Type of reaction upon reception of the negative age frame varied between approval and clear signs of consternation. However, interviewees did not relate with the older people portrayed with personal aging often felt to be at odds with the portrayal of age shown. The positive frame was first received with pleasure and curiosity. Even so, interviewees became unsettled about how ‘modern’ aging is portrayed, some of them showing insecurity that they could not fulfil the characteristics and requirements of ‘modern’ aging. Media portrayal of age seems not to have the effects on older people as might be expected. Negative effects appear such as media portrayal making older recipients aware of their own age by presenting age in an exaggeratedly positive light in the “best agers” frame. In view of these results, the theory of social comparison processes may be used by which the media provides recipients with standards of comparison.
DDC: 610 Medizin
610 Medical sciences
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 04 Medizin
Place: Mainz
Version: Published version
Publication type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz
Document type specification: Scientific article
License: CC BY
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Journal: Humanities and Social Sciences Communications
Pages or article number: 165
Publisher: Springer Nature
Publisher place: London
Issue date: 2023
ISSN: 2662-9992
Publisher DOI: 10.1057/s41599-023-01671-5
Appears in collections:DFG-491381577-G

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