College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 11-20-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joseph Ferrari, PhD

Second Advisor

Christine Reyna, PhD


Aging demographics globally are changing rapidly, resulting in the category of “older adults” (65 years and older) growing to eventually become the largest age demographic (United Nations, 2022). As our world gets older, ageism is a growing concern given its health, societal, cultural, and political consequences (Chrisler et al., 2016; Bugental & Hehman, 2007; Levy et al., 2020). Following Allport’s Contact Hypothesis (1954), this dissertation empirically analyzed predictors of ageism, including contact with older adults, for younger adults (18-26 years old) residing in U.S. communities. Participants were recruited using Prolific Academic, an online crowdsourcing platform and responded to five scales and demographic questions, totaling approximately six minutes. Project scales included the Fraboni Scale of Ageism (Fraboni et al., 1990), the Intergroup Contact scale (adapted from Islam & Hewstone, 1993), the Perspective Taking scale (adapted from Davis, 1994), the Contact Valence scale (Barlow et al., 2012), and the Social Desirability scale (Reynolds, 1982). Analyses were conducted in The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, Version 27.0; IBM Corp, 2020).

Results indicated that, among a community sample of younger adults, younger adult’s contact with older adults predicted the younger adult’s ageist beliefs, with the relationship mediated by the younger adult’s ability to take the perspective of the older adult. Contact valence was tested as a moderator for the mediated relationship between contact, perspective taking, and ageism; and result indicate that contact valence does not moderate the mediated relationship.

The results from the present study provided insight into what variables may impact younger adult’s changes in ageist beliefs as a result of their contact with older adults. Findings have implications for psychometric development, intergenerational interventions, and future research. Most importantly, the findings display the importance of perspective taking as an element in intergenerational interventions to reduce ageism among young adults. The present study expands The Contact Hypthesis (Allport, 1954) theory into the field of aging and ageism and calls attention to the role of perspective-taking in changing younger adult’s ageism beliefs.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons