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Sociopsychological Perspectives on Older People's Language and Communication

  • Angie Williams and Howard Giles (a1)

Abstract

This paper overviews a series of recent investigations of the sociopsychological meanings of older people's language and communication. The first set of studies investigated young people's perceptions of younger and older voices. Older voices were, in general, downgraded relative to younger voices by young people. In addition, younger people's messages were recalled significantly better than older people's messages. The next set of studies was concerned with whether people seek information differently from people of various ages. The findings indicate that different questions were posed depending on the target's age. Further studies show that young people's information-seeking strategies draw on various ageist assumptions to formulate questions to both younger and older targets. The next investigation examined how young people address both younger and older people when they are requesting different kinds of assistance from them. Not only do we find ageist assumptions mediating the kinds of compliance-gaining young people use with older people, but also negative stereotypes emerge when younger people are asked what kinds of compliance-gaining strategies older people themselves usually adopt. Finally, the above findings are meshed with a new model being developed concerning the relationships between language, health and the elderly.

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71 See Lerner, R. and Busch-Rossnagel, N., Individuals as Producers of their Development: A Life Span Perspective. Academic Press, New York, 1981.

72 Coupland, N. and Giles, H. (eds), Communicative accommodation: recent developments. Language and Communication, 8 (1983) (3 and 4 special double issue).

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Sociopsychological Perspectives on Older People's Language and Communication

  • Angie Williams and Howard Giles (a1)

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