Date of Graduation

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Advisor

Gray, Michelle

Reader

Jozkowski, Kristen

Second Reader

Sullivan, Amanda

Abstract

Background: Ageism, a type of discrimination based on a person’s age, can lead to negative attitudes, intolerance, and judgment towards older adults. With the increase of older adults in society, understanding the correlates of negative attitudes becomes increasingly important. The use of aging simulation (the action of imitating or pretending to be an older adult) is one largely unexplored intervention for reducing ageist attitudes. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an aging suit on the attitudes of young and middle-aged adults toward older adults. We hypothesized that after performing senior fitness tests in an aging suit, young and middle-aged adults would have more positive attitudes towards older adults. Methodology: Subjects consisted of 18 males and 41 females between the ages of 18-59 years. All assessments took place in the Exercise Science Research Center at the University of Arkansas. Upon arrival, each participant took The Aging Semantic Differential (ASD), donned the Gerontological Test (GERT) Suit, to simulate aging, participated in senior fitness tests, and concluded by removing the GERT aging suit and retaking the ASD. A dependent samples t-test was used to compare the ASD scores (dependent variable) pre-aging suit and post-aging suit. Between subject factors of gender, prior fitness test experience, and professional experience working with older adults were also analyzed. Results: There were no significant differences on attitudes towards older adults after wearing the GERT aging suit compared to pre-test scores (p=.36). The mean ASD scores pre-aging suit and post-aging suit were 77.4 and 75.6. There was no group by time interaction for gender (p=.50), prior fitness test experience (p=.91), or professional experience working with older adults (p=.35). The mean age of participants was 28 years. Discussion: The results of this study do not support the hypothesis that attitudes towards older adults would become more positive after wearing the aging suit. The results highlight the need for more studies with a greater sample size and more age variety to clarify a link between an aging suit and an increase in positive attitudes towards older adults. Future studies should also include a comparison of an aging suit (aging simulation) to integrated learning experiences to better clarify the extent to which an aging suit could help increase positive attitudes towards older adults when compared to another intervention method.

Keywords

ageism, older adults, aging suit, ASD, attitudes

Available for download on Friday, October 25, 2019

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