Young adults' cognitive representations of intergenerational conversations

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27 Scopus citations


Extensive research has focused on younger adults' stereotypes of older adults. The current paper attempts to extend this research by examining younger adults' cognitive representations of intergenerational conversations - here termed intergenerational communication schemas (ICSs). Young adult respondents were provided with a description of an older target reflecting a positive or negative stereotype, and were asked to provide an open-ended narrative describing a conversation with that older person. The narratives were analyzed and six categories emerged which were identified as homogeneous and coherent types of intergenerational conversation. For example, a helping schema emerged which featured descriptions of the older adult as dependent, the young person desiring to help the older adult, and the younger adult expecting to feel good for having helped. Some variation in the narratives is explained as a function of the nature of the older target, for instance the helping schema emerged exclusively in the negative stereotype condition. In addition, the schema descriptions are shown to be associated with other evaluations of the conversation such as general communication satisfaction. The role of these schemas in influencing intergenerational talk, and their relations to theoretical and applied issues are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-31
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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