INTRODUCTION Reported Quality of Service from Young Adult Consumers
Stereotypes held against young adults need to be recognized. Negative stereotypes that exist against young adults can create obstacles for young adults that may influence their development. These obstacles interfere in the work place, social atmospheres, educational opportunities, and possibly as consumers. The only way to overcome such detrimental obstacles is to compare reported experiences of both young adults and adults in a common situation. By doing so we are able to find if there is truly a significance difference between the young adults and adults in the quality of service that they report.
Most literature focuses on young adults’ views of older persons. There is an abundant amount of literature that discusses the workplace and how stereotypes play a significant role between young adult employees and older employees. This approach is helpful in uncovering the severity of age discrimination and the impact it has on young adults. The ability for an individual to have a secure work environment is important. In a study concerning adaptation in the work place, it was found that, “ …older workers leave their jobs rather than adapt to workplace changes” (Yeatts, Knapp, and Folk 2000). According to Yeatts, there is a higher demand on business now to raise the bar on the level of competitiveness, and the “traditional management hierarchy” is being replaced by an inefficient “middle level management” (Yeatts et al. 2000). The most important concern expressed by Yeatts is for the workers themselves. With the new demands business are faced with, the interest of the employees are not top priority and they can easily be displaced based solely on their age. Although Yeatts’ study focuses on the effects and distress experienced by older adults, it is directly associated with existing stereotypes of young adults. Younger adults are replacing the older workers that are being displaced. This creates a tension that can lead to possible negative treatment toward young adults based solely on their age. There is more to age discrimination in the work place than one would first assume. Two factors that are involved in age discrimination in the work place, that serve to better understand work environments are self esteem, and personal control. (Hassell, and Perrewe.1993). According to Hassell study, there is a difference of opinion about age discrimination based on whether or not an employee has high or low self-esteem or personal control. Participants who reported a lower level of personal control (no matter their age) were more likely to perceive age discrimination in the work place. To feel one are out of control gives one a feeling of insignificance and leaves room for intentional or unintentional age discrimination. Thus, it is important for the development of young adults to not overlook treatment that has a potentially negative effect on self-esteem and level of self-control.Other studies have attempted to break down the factors involved with the “negative evaluation of contemporary society”, including age favorability of older persons (Jackson,L.A., and Sullivan, L.A., (2001). Some of these factors include: characterizing the elderly as physically ill, mentally slow, unproductive, and self-deprecating. As an age group, the elderly are characterized mostly negatively; however, on an individual basis young participants reported an age favorability bias (e.g., Bell,Stanfield,1973; Crockett, Press, and Osterkamp.1979; Scheier, Carver, Schultz, Glass, and Katz,1978; Weinberger, and Millham,1975). Among the factors mentioned, the article also brings up the importance of sex, and how one’s sex can play a vital role in the way younger persons perceive older persons. Jackson et.al. (2001), does a good job pointing out that there has not been a sufficient amount of research to be able to narrow down why stereotypes exists between older persons and younger persons. It is important to continue, and even increase research on this topic because most people are unaware of the effects stereotypes can have, no matter the age group that is targeted.Matheson, Collins, and Kuehne (2000) found that stereotypes held by older people of younger adults are positive. The findings of this study are contradictory to numerous studies (e.g., Hamilton & Trolier, 1986; Zarate &Smith, 1990) that have found that most persons hold views based on stereotypes rather forming an individuated viewpoint. Matheson et al. (2000), also reflects on the lack of research concerning the conflicting results of such studies and claims this void of information to be the motivating force in her study.Stereotypes play an intricate role in the daily lives of all persons in every age group. We have chosen to focus on the stereotypes held by persons against young adult consumers. Negative treatment of young adult consumers cannot be overlook. It is important to the development of the young adults to be allowed to grow without stereotypical obstacles. Obstacles exist for young adults as consumers. We believe there to be a strong difference between adults and young adults as consumers. We hypothesize that there is an apparent difference in the quality of service towards adults versus young adults from service/sales workers.
ParticipantsAll participants in this study are over the age of 18. There are a total of 50 participants. Of these participants, 25 will be undergraduate students from Loyola University of New Orleans, and 25 will be faculty members from Loyola University of New Orleans.
MaterialsThe study will include two surveys. The first survey is titled “Quality of service” and will measure the participants’ reported quality of service from service/sales workers from their past experiences. This survey is a 5-point likert scale, 1being strongly agree and 5 being strongly disagree. The second survey will as general demographic questions.
Design and ProcedureThis study is a correlational study. Participatns will come to an assigned classroom where they will be presented with an informed consent form. After signing the consent form, we will hand the participant the “Quality of Service” survey and the demographic survey. After completing the study, which will take no more than 15 minutes, participants will be debriefed.
RESULTS Results We hypothesized that there would be an apparent difference in the quality of service towards adults versus young adults form service/sales workers. The research participants included 64% Caucasian, 12% African American, 16% Hispanic, 4% Asian (M=23.52,SD=10.34). The results from the research study concluded that the hypothesis tested was not supported (r=. 232, p=ns). However, we did find a strong correlation between the people who reported better personal treatment and those who were more likely to believe older people are treated better (r=. 575, p=. 003). We also found that the correlation between young adult consumers and the belief that body language and appearance matter was approaching significance (r=. 350, p=. 086).
DISCUSSION Discussion We hypothesized that there would be an apparent difference in the quality of service towards adults versus young adults from service/sales workers. This hypothesis was not supported. The results of this research study are counter to the results in former studies that have found age favorability of older persons in “negative evaluation of contemporary society” (Jackson et al. 2001). The findings of this study also contradict the theory that the elderly are characterized mostly negatively (Bell et al.1973). Although no significant findings came from the research study, there are ways this research study can be useful overall. This research study has opened the door for more people to become aware of stereotypes against young adult consumers. The limitations of our research study greatly contributed to the insignificance of our results. Only having one semester to research and run the study did not give us enough time to collect enough participants, nor did it allow us enough time to collect and examine the data. The study could have been better had we used a credible survey instead of our own. The survey we created on our own had a few grammatical errors and may have confused the participant. The study could have been stronger had there been a larger number of participants, and if the participants had not been limited to Loyola University of New Orleans. The limited number of participants is not enough to represent the population of Loyola University as a whole. By using participants from Loyola University only, the study was not able to represent the opinions of those outside of the Loyola population. Overall, had these limitations been avoided, the research study would have had extremely different results. It is very important that future research look into the stereotypes held against young adult consumers. Many businesses could benefit from research in this area. The acknowledgement of these stereotypes could lead to the eradication of these stereotypes. Then, young adult consumers would be able to feel equal to adult consumers. A boost of confidence for young adults as consumers could increase: productivity in the work place, quality of service for young adults, and an increase in business for many companies. To invest time into this area of research would be a sound and profitable investment for businesses worldwide.
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