INTRODUCTION Stereotypical Treatment A "stereotype" is a generalization about a person or group of persons (Grobman 1990). We develop stereotypes when we are unable or unwilling to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgments about people or situations. Our society often innocently creates and perpetuates stereotypes, but these stereotypes often lead to unfair discrimination and persecution when the stereotype is unfavorable (Grobman 1990). We observe stereotypes from restaurants to movie theaters to shopping centers and car dealerships. For example, if we are walking through a park late at night and encounter three senior citizens wearing fur coats and walking with canes, we may not feel as threatened as if three high school-aged boys wearing leather jackets met us. Why is this so? By stereotyping, we assume that a person or group has certain characteristics. Quite often, we have stereotypes about persons who are members of groups with which we have not had firsthand contact. There are many forms of stereotypes; however, the present study focuses solely on the stereotypical treatment of young adults. We define stereotype as a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment. The base of this study is stereotyping someone because of his or her age. The increase of age discrimination complaints and lawsuits that have occurred since the passage of the Age Discrimination Act in 1967 (Hassell, Perrewe 1993). The aged have been negatively evaluated in contemporary American society on a variety of dimensions. Older persons have been stereotypically viewed as being physically ill, mentally slow, inactive, unproductive, etc. when evaluating individual targets, however, young respondents revealed an age favorability bias, evaluating old targets more favorably than young targets who were similarly described (Jackson, Sullivan 2001). Age is not the sole reason for the obsolescence of knowledge, skills or abilities. Rather it has been argued that advanced age is often associated with long job tenure and that this can contribute to stagnation of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a particular job (Edward, Knapp, Yeatts 2000). Our study seeks to emphasize the contrasting opinions of stereotypical treatment expressed by young adults versus adults. Contrasting opinions refers to the distinct treatment an adult might receive as opposed to the treatment a young adult would receive. Therefore, rather than forming individuated views of others, based on their specific attributes or characteristics, people use stereotypes-beliefs and expectations about members of a group that are held solely on the basis of their membership in the group, in this case, age (Matheson, Collins, Kuehne 2000). Is it fair that an adult might be treated differently as opposed to a young adult? For example, if a young female walked into a boutique and behind her walked in a well-dressed adult, whom do you think the sales personal would approach faster and why? The truth is the adult would most probably be approached faster, because of her age the sales personal might assume she has more money since she is older and therefore it is more likely that she would be purchasing something. Its hard to say what a sales personal would be thinking throughout this process or what judgments would be made, but at the same time how would that 20 year old feel? She is being stereotyped for being younger and that is the main purpose of this study, how young adults are stereotyped. Therefore an apparent difference between the qualities of service an adult would receive is different then the service the young adult would receive. This present study will investigate the stereotypical treatment towards young adult consumers. This study hypothesizes that there is an apparent difference in the quality of service towards adults versus young adults from service/sales workers.
METHODS MethodParticipants The participants in this study will consist of fifty or more volunteers. Participants will be recruited by the researchers from classes and student groups around campus as well as through a posting on the psychology department human participation pool board. On the sign up sheet they will be provided information about the location and timings of the experimental sessions one of which they can attend. The participants will consist of twenty-five or more undergraduate students, and twenty-five or more faculty members from Loyola University of New Orleans. The undergraduate students will receive partial course credit for their participation in this study.
Materials The survey for the study is a Quality of Service Survey. It is in the format of a Likert Scale and a Demographic Survey. The Likert Scale consists of twenty questions, which will measure the quality of service (1 standing for strongly agree and 5 standing for strongly disagree.). The demographic survey will measure age variables; an example question is “What is your age?” An example question from the survey is, “Do sales personal approach me promptly when I enter a store?” Which will then be answered by a choosing a number from1 through 5. The variables consist of age, quality of service, verbal/nonverbal communication and reaction time. Our definition of young adult is participants between the ages of 18 to 25 years of age, while Adult is participants 25 years of age or older. Verbal communication is a communication through speech, and verbal cues. Nonverbal Communication is contact through body language. The quality of service is defined as verbal/nonverbal communication plus the reaction time. Reaction time is the amount of time it takes for a service/sales worker to acknowledge a customer.
Design and Procedure:
When participants arrive at the study location, they will be seated and provided a basic introduction to the study and its general purpose. They will then be handed two copies of the consent form, both of which they will sign, keeping one for their records and turning the other to the researcher. The participants will then be handed the survey packet. The participants are allowed as much time as needed to fill out the survey, although it is not expected to take more than 15 minutes upon completion of the questions participants were debriefed and thanked for their time. Researchers are then willing to answer any questions the participants might have, and participants are then dismissed. This study is a correlational study.
RESULT/DISCUSSION ResultsA comparison of scores on the survey is conducted between the adults and younger adults. Our anticipated result is that there is an apparent difference in the quality of service toward adults versus younger adults from service/sales workers. However, in this research the statistics did not disclose any significant correlations between young adults and older adult consumers.This study consisted of 64 participants. Different participants would mean different backgrounds and race, the four types of backgrounds we had were, White, African American, Hispanic, and Asian. The participants consisted of 16 Whites, 3 African Americans, 4 Hispanics, and 1 Asian (M= 23.52 %, SD=10.34). a standard deviation of 10.34%. Unfortunately, the results from this research study concluded that the hypothesis was not supported (r=.232, p=ns). The research did find a correlation between the people who reported better personal treatment were more likely to believe older people are treated better (r=.350, p=.086).There is also a belief that the body language and appearance do correlate in the manner in which the customer will be treated (r=.575, p=.003).DiscussionDifferent types of stereotypical behavior are common in everyday life. Our study seeks to expose the stereotypes that limit young adults from being perceived as equal to older adults in today’s society. Our study will help young adults as well as adults become aware of stereotypes. Thus trying to enlighten young adults overcome stereotypes and receive equal treatment. This study is correlational, its limitations consist of a small number of participants, participants are limited to Loyola University of New Orleans and we created our own survey. We hypothesized that there would be a perceived difference in the quality of service towards adults versus young adults from service/sales workers. The increase of age discrimination complaints and lawsuits have occurred since the passage of the Age Discrimination Act in 1967 (Hassell, Perrewe 1993). Our hypothesis was not supported by our research. Therefore it is counter to the results of the past research we used. An example of this is, a study by Jackson, Sullivan 2001. This study focused on age being negatively evaluated in contemporary American society on a variety of dimensions. Older persons have been stereotypically viewed as being physically ill, mentally slow, inactive, unproductive, etc. when evaluating individual targets, however, young respondents revealed an age favorability bias, evaluating old targets more favorably than young targets who were similarly described on. The limitations of our study had a major role in the insignificant results. I would have also preferred to use a credible survey, instead of the one which we made on our own. If I where to do something differently it would probably be going outside of the Loyola community and getting a more diverse crowd of individuals who work and do different things. I would have also narrowed my search to two direct age groups and direct ages and or the ethnicity of the participants. I feel more future research should be studied since this is an everyday occurrence. We all know that it happens, some act on what they see while others have just become accustomed to it. Other than that I enjoyed learning about this research because it truly is something which may occur, age can be a key factor which people use to judge others.
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