Elderly people's attitudes and perceptions of aging and old age: The role of cognitive dissonance?

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Objective: The aim of the research was to examine if and, how the attitudes and perceptions were changing during the aging process. The research sample included three hundred and eighty-eight elderly people between the ages of 65-92 who were sampled for the purpose of analyzing and comparing their attitudes anal perceptions of old age and aging, in the present, to their attitudes and perceptions of these two concepts in the past. Method: The research tool was composed of two parts: (A) a short demographic questionnaire which examined the following variables: gender, age, origin, family status and subjective health definition. (B) the second part was essentially qualitative in which subjects were asked via an 'interviewer' to reply to an identical question relating to two different periods in their lives: in their youth (when you were a young man/woman) and today. The data received from the questionnaires was processed in two main methods: quantitatively - statistically and qualitatively - content analysis. Results: The subjects' attitudes were categorized into six different typologies which were identified on a continuum: elderly people whose attitude towards old age and aging was negative both in the present and in the past were positioned at one end of the continuum. Subjects with a positive attitude towards old age, both in their youth and in the present were positioned at the opposite end of the continuum. Negative attitudes were more prominently described by powerful adjectives than positive attitudes were described by the subjects. For instance: 'Fear', 'Disgust'. In the description of the positive attitude only one powerful adjective was used 'Splendor and glory'. Conclusions: A significant correlation was found between subjects whose attitudes towards old age in the present were negative and those who subjectively defined their health as bad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-662
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Age and aging
  • Attitudes and perceptions
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Elderly people
  • Typologies on a continuous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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