Shedding Common Assumptions,
Myths, and Stereotypes about
While the behavior of every age group is stereotyped by others to some degree, no group is as negatively affected by such generalizations as the elderly; at least other age groups are expected to outgrow their idiosyncrasies.
Older people are often perceived as poor, isolated, senile, unhappy, and unhealthy or as very well-off, playing endless golf into the sunset of their lives. As employees, they are often viewed as unmotivated and as less creative and less productive than younger workers. Under these assumptions, they don’t seem to offer characteristics that lead to promotions or to selection for new learning opportunities.
Several studies have shown that managers sometimes engage in age discrimination without being aware of it. Years back, in 1977, a survey conducted of 1,570 subscribers to the Harvard Business Review sought to assess the degree to which age discrimination affected managerial decisions.1 The respondents were divided into two groups, and each group was asked to evaluate a series of problems involving poor worker performance and decisions regarding training and promotions. The problems presented to the two groups were virtually identical except for the age of the employee involved in the incident. One-half dealt with a younger worker, and the other half with an older one.
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Publication information: Book title: The Older Worker Advantage: Making the Most of Our Aging Workforce. Contributors: Gordon F. Shea - Author, Adolf Haasen - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2006. Page number: 43.
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