Seeing eye-to-eye: do intergroup biases operate similarly for younger and older adults?

Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2005;61(2):123-39. doi: 10.2190/07Q7-BWYT-NC9E-51FX.


Because of their relatively temporary group memberships, age groups represent an intriguing test of theories of intergroup relations. In spite of this unique feature, virtually no research has examined age group relations from an intergroup perspective. The present study investigated the role of two influential intergroup factors, degree of group identification and threats to group status, in younger and older adults' evaluations of their ingroup (own age group) and the outgroup (other age group). Participants were placed in situations in which their ingroup was either superior or inferior to the outgroup. Several measures of bias were then assessed, including ingroup favoritism, perceived similarity, social distance, outgroup homogeneity, and self-stereotyping. The results support the notion that age groups are unique from other groups, as age influenced all forms of bias. In particular, young adults exhibited more biases than older adults by perceiving less similarity and distancing themselves more from the outgroup. These findings suggest that older adults' greater familiarity with the outgroup might attenuate their age-based biases compared with younger participants.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes*
  • Peer Group*
  • Prejudice*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Identification
  • Stereotyping
  • Surveys and Questionnaires