[Paleopsych] Independent: Ageism 'bigger problem than racism or sexism

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Sun Sep 18 01:24:13 UTC 2005

Ageism 'bigger problem than racism or sexism

Ageism, affecting both the young and old, is the most widely experienced 
prejudice in Britain, according to the first major study into age 

The survey found that ageism now eclipses racism, sexism and discrimination 
based on disability.

The only group not to experience ageism are those people aged between 35 and 44 
who are too old for negative youth stereotyping and too young for prejudice 
based on advancing years, the study found.

Among the 43 per cent of the participants of the survey of 1,843 people who 
said they had experienced prejudice of some sort, 65 per cent said it included 
first-hand experience of age discrimination, said Dominic Abrams, professor of 
social psychology at the University of Kent.

"Ageism is the form of prejudice that is experienced most commonly by people in 
the UK. It's the most pervasive form of prejudice; and that seems to be true 
pretty much across gender, across ethnicity, religion and disability - people 
of all types experience ageism," Professor Abrams told the Science Festival in 
Dublin. "Government legislation on equality and human rights needs to ensure 
that ageism is treated at least as seriously as all of the other forms of 
prejudice that it's tackling."

The study found that both men and women suffer ageism and that their experience 
of it was greater even than the sexism experienced by women. Younger people 
also felt discriminated against because of their youth, although discrimination 
against elderly people was more widely felt, Professor Abrams said.

"Age is in the eye of the beholder but age prejudice seems to be ubiquitous in 
British society.

"More youthful is seen as more useful," he said.

Those who took part in the study believed that older people are viewed as 
friendlier than younger people, while younger people were perceived as more 
competent and capable than older people.

Professor Abrams said combating age discrimination would become increasingly 
important as the average age of the British population increased.

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