Event Title

College Students' Attitudes More Negative toward Older versus Same-Aged Peers

Poster Number

042

Session Title

The College Experience

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Description

We examined current college students’ responses to common college social situations that varied in closeness and age of the target individual. We hypothesized that college students would have more negative attitudes toward older compared to same-aged peers. We hypothesized that a higher fear of death, a higher fear of missing out, or more emotional distance from grandparents would predict more negative attitudes toward older students. Participants were current college students (n = 88) with a mean age of 20.90 (SD= 1.87). The majority were women (70%) and Caucasian (51%). Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. All of the conditions described the same social situations. Participants were asked to imagine themselves in the situation (e.g., meeting a roommate, working on a group project, playing intramural sports). In one condition, the age of the other person was not specified. The other conditions specified either an 18-year-old, a 30-year-old, or a 50-year-old. Participants responded to scales to assess fear of death, fear of missing out, and closeness with grandparents. Results revealed partial support for our first hypothesis. Traditional-age college students felt more negatively toward close, but not casual, campus interactions with 30- and 50-year-olds compared to 18-year-olds. Our second hypothesis that fear of death and grandparent interactions would predict attitudes, was not supported. These results suggest that traditional-age college students’ attitudes toward older peers may be based more on immediate comfort and relatability issues rather than on personal fear of and experiences with aging.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

College Students' Attitudes More Negative toward Older versus Same-Aged Peers

We examined current college students’ responses to common college social situations that varied in closeness and age of the target individual. We hypothesized that college students would have more negative attitudes toward older compared to same-aged peers. We hypothesized that a higher fear of death, a higher fear of missing out, or more emotional distance from grandparents would predict more negative attitudes toward older students. Participants were current college students (n = 88) with a mean age of 20.90 (SD= 1.87). The majority were women (70%) and Caucasian (51%). Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. All of the conditions described the same social situations. Participants were asked to imagine themselves in the situation (e.g., meeting a roommate, working on a group project, playing intramural sports). In one condition, the age of the other person was not specified. The other conditions specified either an 18-year-old, a 30-year-old, or a 50-year-old. Participants responded to scales to assess fear of death, fear of missing out, and closeness with grandparents. Results revealed partial support for our first hypothesis. Traditional-age college students felt more negatively toward close, but not casual, campus interactions with 30- and 50-year-olds compared to 18-year-olds. Our second hypothesis that fear of death and grandparent interactions would predict attitudes, was not supported. These results suggest that traditional-age college students’ attitudes toward older peers may be based more on immediate comfort and relatability issues rather than on personal fear of and experiences with aging.