Construct Validity of Implicit Age Attitudes

Lindner, Nicole Marguerite, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Nosek, Brian, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

The research described here focused on the construct validation of implicit age attitudes. In Study 1, I illustrated how implicit age attitudes failed to demonstrate the relationships that construct validation of implicit attitudes more generally would anticipate, highlighting the need to investigate the construct validity of implicit age attitudes. Specifically, implicit age attitudes were dissociated from individuals' explicit age attitudes and age identity. Studies 2 through 5 pursued the construct validation of implicit age attitudes. Study 2 examined whether asking different questions or using alternative implicit measures would reveal stronger implicit-explicit relations. Instead, implicit age attitudes, as assessed by 4 distinct measures, remain substantially dissociated from anything individuals self-reported, including multiple measures of self-reported age preferences, intergroup contact, age identity, perceived competence and likability, expectations about one's own aging process, and mortality concerns. In Studies 3 and 4, I examined the measurement of implicit age attitudes, varying the age groups targeted in implicit measurement. As assessed with two separate measures, implicit age attitudes were consistently pro-young, but sensitive to which age groups represented younger and older, and implicit attitudes toward middle-aged adults were moderated by individuals' own age. Study 5 contrasted several hypotheses for how age attitudes could vary across nations, such as nations' collectivism, socioeconomic modernization, or the percentage of older adults in the population. Culture is thought to influence the environment in which an attitude is learned; I found that despite the dissociation in individuals' implicit and explicit age attitudes, there was evidence at the national level for their predictive validity. National indicators of population aging predicted national levels of negative implicit and ii explicit attitudes toward older adults, suggesting that cultural contexts present different messages about old people and aging and that these messages are one source of negative associations with older adults. The persistent dissociation between individuals' implicit age attitudes and all self-report constructs remains a puzzle for their construct validity. But as a whole, the present research represents significant progress in accumulating evidence for the nomological net supporting the construct of implicit age attitudes.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
age, attitudes
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