Speech modification for older adults, commonly referred to as “elderspeak,” is a discriminatory behavior that affects older adults in interactions with family, friends, strangers, healthcare professionals, and long-term care facility staff. The current study investigates the relationship between Intergenerational Service-Learning (ISL) and both ageism and elderspeak. Undergraduate students enrolled in service-learning (SL) projects with older adults (N = 11) or children (N = 20), completed the Fraboni Scale of Ageism (FSA), an Implicit Associations test (IAT), and a communication map task. In the communication map task, students were asked to verbally describe a route on a given map to both a middle-aged adult and also to an older adult. It was hypothesized that students who completed SL with older adults would express less explicit ageism, similar amounts of implicit ageism, and a greater degree of speech modification than students who completed SL with children. While results showed that ISL was not related to ageism or to elderspeak, significant differences were found between the two SL groups (older adults, children) on verbal fluency and on ratings of confidence with the task. Overall, explicit attitudes toward older adults were generally positive, while implicit attitudes towards older adults were generally negative. On the map task, participants spoke more slowly to the perceived older adult than to the perceived middle-aged adults. Finally, the current study established a correlation between scores on the Fraboni Scale of Ageism and on the Implicit Associations Test, an unexpected result.
Hultgren, Kristin, "Speak Loud and Clear: Intergenerational Service-Learning To Ageism and Elderspeak" (2012). Psychology Student Work. 3.