In This Article Ageism at Work

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Anthologies
  • Handbooks
  • Journals
  • Research Organizations
  • Background and Legal Protections
  • Factors Influencing Ageism at Work
  • Combating Ageism at Work
  • Validated Measures

Psychology Ageism at Work
by
Amy Pytlovany
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0261

Introduction

A demographic shift has been occurring in the workforce and is expected to continue in most industrialized nations across the globe. The popular press calls it “the graying of the workforce,” or “the silver tsunami,” reflecting a trend of an aging workforce. Older employees are remaining at their jobs longer and consequently age diversity within organizations has increased. Five different generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z) are working together more than ever before. Increased age diversity has important implications for organizational processes and can have positive and negative consequences. As this trend continues, businesses must adapt to effectively manage age-diverse employees. If left unchecked, ageism at work can lead to numerous detrimental outcomes for organizations (e.g., reduced firm performance, employee turnover), teams (e.g., intergroup conflict), and individuals (e.g., selection discrimination, poor health). Research on this topic seeks to understand the content and process of age-based stereotyping, accuracy of stereotypes, outcomes of age bias, and conditions under which stereotypes are most likely to result in discrimination. Most of the work to date has focused on older workers; however, attention to younger worker age bias is increasing. Developing research streams strive to understand personal and contextual factors impacting ageism at work, and strategies for mitigating the negative effects of age diversity while fostering positive outcomes.

General Overviews

These selections provide the reader with a comprehensive overview of the key themes, theoretical foundations, and empirical evidence relating to age bias in the workplace. Truxillo, et al. 2017 provides a comprehensive review of ageism-related theory, delineates age categories and associated stereotypes, and reports on how stereotypes can lead to discrimination in hiring, training, and performance appraisal, layoffs, and interpersonal treatment. The authors examine moderators, novel research streams, and promising areas for development of the ageism at work literature. Updated from the 2007 edition, Finkelstein, et al. 2019 provides an up-to-date examination about what age bias is, why age biases occur at work, what processes are at play, under what conditions age bias is most likely to occur, what outcomes can be expected, and what can be done about it on an individual, organizational, and community level. Cadiz, et al. 2017 reviews theoretical foundations and empirical evidence organized within the tripartite framework, that is, through examining separately the cognitive (stereotypes), affective (prejudice), and behavioral (discrimination) components of workplace ageism.

  • Cadiz, D. M., A. C. Pytlovany, and D. M. Truxillo. 2017. Ageism in the workplace. In The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology.

    DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.013.2E-mail Citation »

    Theoretical background and empirical evidence is presented to provide an understanding of age-related stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination at work. Promising related research and recommendations for future research development are presented.

  • Finkelstein, L. M., E. A. Hanrahan, and C. L. Thomas. 2019. An expanded view of age bias in the workplace. In Aging and work in the 21st century. Edited by K. S. Shultz and G. A. Adams, 59–101. New York: Routledge.

    E-mail Citation »

    This chapter provides an overview of age bias in the workplace including a useful framework to structure a comprehensive understanding of the ageism at work literature. The authors walk the reader through relevant research to foster a theoretical and empirical appreciation of this phenomenon, and provide recommendations for future research.

  • Truxillo, D. M., L. M. Finkelstein, A. C. Pytlovany, and J. S. Jenkins. 2017. Age discrimination at work: A review of the research and recommendations for the future. In The Oxford handbook of workplace discrimination. Edited by A. Colella and E. King, 1–37. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    E-mail Citation »

    Research relevant to age discrimination at work is reviewed in this chapter. Theoretical background, stereotype content, empirical evidence relating to prejudice and discrimination, contextual considerations, and future research recommendations are discussed.

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