Factors associated with ageist attitudes among college students

Matthew Lee Smith, Caroline D. Bergeron, Clay Cowart, Sang Nam Ahn, Samuel D. Towne, Marcia G. Ory, Mindy A. Menn, J. D. Chaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Aim: Ageist views have the potential to deleteriously impact large populations of older adults in the USA and worldwide. The high levels of ageism among young adults might originate from their limited interactions with older adults (individuals aged 65 years and older). The present study examined the factors associated with ageist attitudes among college students. Methods: Data were analyzed from 641 college students using an internet-delivered questionnaire. Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with 17 ageist statements about older adults. A general least squares regression analysis was carried out to identify the associations of participants’ sex, race/ethnicity and interactions with older adults on self-identified ageist attitudes. Results: Approximately 37% of participating college students interacted with older adults one or more times per week, 38.3% had resided with an older adult in their lifetime and 78.2% had volunteered/worked with an older adult. Participants who were female (P = 0.035), African American (P = 0.033), those with more frequent interaction with older adults (P = 0.001) and those with experience living with an older adult (P = 0.028) reported significantly lower negative ageist attitudes. Conclusions: Findings suggest that increased exposure to and interactions with older adults can reduce ageist views among college students. Practical recommendations are provided to increase students’ opportunities for interactions with and exposure to older adults. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2017; 17: 1698–1706.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1698-1706
Number of pages9
JournalGeriatrics and Gerontology International
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • ageism
  • college students
  • interactions
  • negative attitudes
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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