Social skills of older people: Conversations in same- and mixed-age dyads

Dixie D. Vandeputte, Susan Kemper, Mary Lee Hummert, Karen A. Kemtes, Jaye Shaner, Chris Segrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Previous research has indicated a relation between lack of social skills and loneliness in young adults. This framework was extended to study older adults' social skills in two experiments examining conversational interactions among older, young, and mixed-age dyads. The conversations were coded for social skill using partner attention statements as the measure of social skill. Partner attention statements includes partner references, questions, and topic continuations. The Beck Depression Inventory, the UCLA Loneliness Scale, and a measure of social anxiety were administered to study the relation of these psychosocial variables to young and older adults' social skills. In neither study was depression or social anxiety related to self-reported loneliness for either young or older adults. Furthermore, loneliness was not related to young or older adults' social skill as measured by partner attention. However, social anxiety was related to social skill during intergenerational conversations: Both young and older adults who experienced more social anxiety at being paired with a partner from the other age group made fewer partner attentional statements. In addition, both older and young adults exhibited a greater degree of social skill when interacting with young partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-76
Number of pages22
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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