Examining alternative items for the assessment of perceived ageism

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Ageism is the negative construction of old age. It has real-life implication at the individual and structural levels. To address ageism in large social surveys, the first step is to identify an easy-to-use item, which measures its incidence. The present study compares the utility of two items, which query about perceived exposure to ageism. The fourth wave of the European Social Survey (ESS) contains data from 29 countries in Europe, including Israel. In the present study, I compare two items as potential indicators of perceived exposure to ageism. As many as 33.7% of the sample reported exposure to ageism based on the ageism module item (which assesses one’s individual perceived exposure), but only 1.1% reported perceived ageism based on the regular ESS item (which queries about identification with a discriminated group). The overall Kappa was.02, indicating that agreement between the two items was no greater than chance. Both items were significant predictors of subjective health, but had somewhat different correlates. This study is important as it raises the need for a more careful consideration of items in the assessment of sensitive social issues, such as perceived ageism in large social studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-324
Number of pages9
JournalEducational Gerontology
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 3 Jun 2018


  • Ageism
  • discrimination
  • priming effect
  • response format

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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