Reactions to older people being patronized: The roles of response strategies and attributed thoughts

Jake Harwood, Howard Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This article examines young people's evaluations of young and elderly targets in a patronizing encounter. Intergenerational patronizing vignettes were presented to respondents who evaluated the target characters. The presence of patronizing talk by a young individual, the nature of the older adult's response, and the thoughts of each target were manipulated in the vignette. The thoughts were manipulated as caring or dominant (younger individual), and assertive or passive (older individual). The young individual was evaluated more negatively in the patronizing, rather than neutral, speech conditions. Less assertive responses to patronizing speech resulted in evaluations of increased warmth and incompetence for the elderly patronizee. Caring thoughts by the patronizer led to more positive evaluations of her or him, although such thoughts were unlikely to be attributed when not provided. Relationships between these findings and previous research are discussed, and applied and theoretical implications are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-421
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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