Examining positive and negative perceptions of older workers: a meta-analysis

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2011 Nov;66(6):687-98. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbr056. Epub 2011 Jun 30.


Objective: This article presents an updated meta-analysis of field and laboratory studies that examine the influence of age on a number of evaluative workplace outcomes (advancement, selection, general evaluations, interpersonal skills, and reliability). Method. A random effects meta-analytic procedure was used.

Results: In line with the perspective that perceptions of older workers are multidimensional, the observed meta-analytic correlations indicate that age has medium-sized negative effects on majority of the outcomes investigated (r(advancement) = -.21, r(selection) = -.30, r(general evaluations) = -.24, and r(interpersonal skills) = -.23, and a medium-sized positive effect on perceptions of reliability (r(reliability) = .31). Additionally, evidence of moderation by study design for the selection outcome is presented, such that within-subjects designs elicit stronger effects of age than between-subjects designs. Discussion. The present study demonstrates that it is likely that older workers are not viewed entirely negatively or entirely positively in the workplace; rather, the perceptions of older workers are more are varied, and even positive in some cases.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Prejudice*
  • Social Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data*