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Causes of Ageism


Why Does Ageism Happen?

Scientific Explanations of the Phenomenon

This section includes a scientific survey of most of the theories that offer explanations of ageism. One can group the current theories in the field in a variety of ways, but we have adopted a somewhat arbitrary division according to three levels: theories at the micro, the meso, and the macro levels.

Micro Level Theories


Visible Signs of Aging

According to this theory, appearance and behaviors are devalued in society and can be thought of as a cause of ageism...


Ageism at an Intersection

The proposition here is this: the source of ageism is not age per se, but the intersection of age and gender...


The Terror Management Theory

According to the terror management theory, in order to manage the anxiety brought about ...


A Social Development Perspective

Ageism develops throughout the life course. Perceptual, affective and sociocultural...


The Stereotype Content Model

According to this model, people are classified along a dimension of warmth and...


Stereotype Embodiment Theory

Lifetime exposure to negative stereotypes of older adults leads to the internalization of ageism...

Meso Level Theories

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Evolutionary Model

People are programmed to be part of a group, and have learned that their own wellbeing is interdependent on that of other members...

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Social Identity Model

Individuals do not act just on the basis of their personal characteristics or interpersonal relationships, but...

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Model of Age Segregation

According to this theory, there is a clear segregation in modern society between the young and the old, based on pre-planned life...

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Model of Intergenerational Conflict

North and Fiske (2013) have identified three bases for intergenerational conflict, which are...

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The Intergroup Threat Theory

According to this theory, individuals react in hostile ways towards outgroups, particularly...

Macro Level Theories


Modernization Theory

This theory postulates that through the process of modernization, which includes advancements in technology and...

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