The effects of specific education and direct experience on implicit and explicit measures of ageism

Ian Stuart-Hamilton, P Nash

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There are two attitude subsets; implicit which are formed through the sum of evaluations associated with salient outcomes of observed behaviours and explicit which are formed through a process of normalisation. Commonly, Likert scale measures have been employed taking a measure of explicit attitudes and not the underlying implicit beliefs. More recently, Implicit Association Tests (IAT's) have been used to measure implicit attitudes in ageing and together with explicit measure studies indicate pervasive wide reaching ageist attitudes. With this negative attitude being held in the social conscious, research has illustrated that care of older people may be less than that given to younger people. Of concern is that medical students' implicit and explicit scores were no different from those negative attitudes held by the general populous and did not improve after completion of medical training. This study investigates the strength and prevalence of implicit and explicit attitudes amongst several populations. The primary longitudinal investigation will assess implicit and explicit attitudes held by 40 psychology students and 34 nursing students at the commencement, midpoint and completion of their degree programmes (age range of 18-40 years). This investigation uses a bespoke IAT measuring implicit attitudes and the Fraboni scale for explicit attitudes, assessing the effects of gerontological education and nurse training. Analysis from the course commencement data indicates no correlation between explicit and implicit measures (-0.73, p=0.538) with implicit results being significantly more negative (F = 10.162, p=0.002). Nursing students demonstrated significantly more positive attitudes in both explicit and implicit measures. Findings illustrate a stark difference between implicit and explicit measures of ageing where individuals can employ impression management and self monitoring techniques. Midpoint data indicates no implicit benefit of current age specific education suggesting a need for more effective intervention measures to address current negative attitudes and associated behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Nutrition Health and Ageing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • attitudes
  • implicit attitudes
  • explicit attitudes
  • ageing
  • ageing implicit association test
  • ageism
  • nursing


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