Cultural stereotypes and social representations of elders from Chinese and European perspectives
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AbstractHierarchical cluster analyses of a trait sorting task were used to investigate social representations (and cultural stereotypes) of elderly New Zealanders (NZers) of Chinese and European origin, held by young (mean age = 17) and middle-aged (mean age = 46) NZers from both ethnic groups. Consistent with cultural theories of aging in Chinese societies, organizational features for NZ Chinese were: evaluative simplicity, role-governed representations (e.g., division between socio-emotional and task-oriented elders), little differentiation as a consequence of the ethnicity of elders or age group of subject, and an overall structure dominated by good/bad. NZ Europeans' social representations were more evaluatively complex, had fewer subtypes and more differences as a consequence of target person ethnicity. The Curmudgeon and the Nurturant were the most consensual stereotypes across the 8 cluster analyses (2 subject ethnicity x 2 target ethnicity x 2 subject age group), with the most power to organize stereotypical perceptions of elders across cultural groups. Only the majority group, NZ Europeans, displayed out-group homogeneity effects by creating more categories of elderly Europeans than Chinese. Both ethnic groups held representations of elderly Europeans as higher status in society, and both had more contact with European than Chinese elders outside the family.
CitationLiu JH, Ng SH, Loong C, Gee S, Weatherall A (2003) 'Cultural stereotypes and social representations of elders from Chinese and European perspectives', Journal of cross-cultural gerontology, 18 (2), pp.149-68.