Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Jennifer A. Margrett


Ageism, the discrimination or prejudice towards an individual based on age, is understood as an individual and societal issue. Ageism and related negative age perceptions can have an impact on personal health and are influenced by societal shifts in ideologies, as well as individual experiences. Using the perspectives of bioecological and life course theories, we examined group differences in perspectives of the age of “old” for three distinct times of measurement (1974, 1981, & 1999/2000). The total sample included 6,765 respondents with 1,554 respondents from the 70s data set, 2,425 respondents from the 80s data set, and 2,786 respondents from the 90s data set. Quantitative analyses (i.e., Multivariate and Univariate Analysis of Variance) were utilized to determine if respondent demographics had significant impacts on the chronological perceptions of “old” about target males and females. Overall effects were found for age (F[2, 6,746] = 112.77, p ≤ 0.001), sex (F[2, 6,746] = 84.59, p ≤ 0.001), education (F[8, 13,492] = 10.53, p ≤ 0.001), race (F[2, 6,746] = 29.17, p ≤ 0.001), and time of measurement (F[4, 13,492] = 82.81, p ≤ 0.001). More complexities existed between independent variables, as demonstrated by the significant impact of interactions and corresponding differences within response categories of the independent variables. Significant differences were also found between perceptions of “old” across the male and female targets.

Historical and societal implications are considered due to a difference in perceptions of “old” between the times of measurement. Additionally, results indicate that perceptions are more complex than the demographic variables included in this study. Future research should consider other aspects of perceptions, such as aging anxiety and past experiences with aging issues.


Copyright Owner

Naomi Rose Meinertz



File Format


File Size

120 pages