Stereotypes of Older Adults: Development and Evaluation of an Updated Stereotype Content and Strength Survey

Kristy J. Carlson, David R. Black, Lyn M. Holley, Daniel C. Coster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Stereotypes are beliefs about a particular group often adopted to bypass complex information processing. Like racism and other forms of discrimination, ageism affects individuals and society as a whole. The purpose of the study was to analyze the Stereotype Content and Strength Survey (SCSS) designed to update assessment tools commonly used to measure stereotypes of older adults. Research Design and Methods: An updated survey was developed including aging-related descriptive items from previously published studies. Students enrolled at two Midwestern universities (n = 491) were directed to think about their perceptions of "older adults"and select the proportion they believed could be described by the items used in the tool. Response categories for each descriptive item were dichotomized and operationalized to be a strong stereotype if the collapsed response percentage was significantly ≥80%. Results: A Principal Axis Factor analysis and Direct Oblim rotation was computed on 117 descriptive items representing positive, negative, and physical characteristics, resulting in a 3-factor model with acceptable psychometric properties. Cronbach alpha analyses revealed reliable scales for negative (α =. 92), positive (α =. 88), and physical (α =. 81) stereotypes. Of 117 descriptive items, 33 emerged as strong stereotypes including 30 positive, 2 physical, and 1 negative item. Discussion and Implications: This updated assessment has the potential to contribute to an understanding of the existence of age-related stereotypes as well as the strength, or the proportion of older adults who could be described by each of the items used in the SCSS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E347-E356
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Ageism
  • Negative stereotypes
  • Physical stereotypes
  • Positive stereotypes
  • Senescent adults
  • Stereotype measurement
  • Stereotype strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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