Nav: Home

When older people feel excluded at work

March 05, 2020

Employees over 50 can feel excluded and demotivated in the workplace for various reasons. They feel particularly excluded when they believe that their cognitive abilities decrease with age, as psychologists from the University of Basel report in the journal "Work, Aging, and Retirement".

Older people are generally happier and have better social relationships than younger people - and yet, negative stereotypes about older people are widespread, for example, they are often seen as forgetful and less competent than younger people. The researchers now show that older workers who have internalized such negative age stereotypes feel belonging less to their company and their colleagues. As a consequence, they are less motivated to seek social contacts in the workplace. This, in turn, can have negative consequences for their integration and can cause them to leave the work process, for example through early retirement.

Is performance also declining?

Older employees over 50 are not only often confronted with negative stereotypes about cognitive decline, they can also internalize them; for example, by agreeing with the idea that intellectual performance declines with age and that they themselves are affected by this decline. Previous research has shown that the internalization of negative age stereotypes can have an impact on performance-related variables.

But internalized negative age stereotypes also affect the emotions and motivation of older workers. Older workers might feel insecure about their belongingness in the workplace. This was shown in four online experiments and in an overall analysis with a total of 1306 employees between 50 and 76 years of age and from various professions. The more the persons internalized negative age stereotypes, the less they were motivated to establish social contacts with their colleagues and the more they socially withdrew. Investigations of the causality of these relationships, however, did not yield any clear results.

Fewer age stereotypes

"Fewer negative age stereotypes would not only enable more older employees to maintain fulfilling social contacts in the workplace," comments project leader Prof. Dr. Jana Nikitin the studies. The professional potential of older employees could also be better capitalized: "This could, in turn, contribute to solution of economic and social challenges in connection with the latest demographic developments."
-end-
Further information

Prof. Dr. Jana Nikitin, University of Basel, Department of Psychology, Personality and Developmental Psychology, Tel. +41 61 207 05 83, E-Mail: jana.nikitin@unibas.ch

University of Basel

Related Aging Articles:

The first roadmap for ovarian aging
Infertility likely stems from age-related decline of the ovaries, but the molecular mechanisms that lead to this decline have been unclear.
Researchers discover new cause of cell aging
New research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering could be key to our understanding of how the aging process works.
Deep Aging Clocks: The emergence of AI-based biomarkers of aging and longevity
The advent of deep biomarkers of aging, longevity and mortality presents a range of non-obvious applications.
Intelligence can link to health and aging
For over 100 years, scientists have sought to understand what links a person's general intelligence, health and aging.
Putting the brakes on aging
Salk Institute researchers have developed a new gene therapy to help decelerate the aging process.
New insights into the aging brain
A group of scientists at the Gladstone Institutes investigated why the choroid plexus contains so much more klotho than other brain regions.
We all want 'healthy aging,' but what is it, really? New report looks for answers
Led by Paul Mulhausen, MD, MHS, FACP, AGSF, colleagues from the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) set looking critically at what 'healthy aging' really means.
New insight into aging
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) of McGill University examined the effects of aging on neuroplasticity in the primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes auditory information.
Aging may be as old as life itself
Aging has had a bad rap since it has long been considered a consequence of biology's concentrated effort on enhancing survival through reproductivity.
A new link between cancer and aging
Human lung cancer cells resist dying by controlling parts of the aging process, according to findings published online May 10th in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
More Aging News and Aging Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.