Title page for ETD etd-12102002-153448

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Roberts, Jane
Author's Email Address jroberts@vt.edu
URN etd-12102002-153448
Title Ethics Adherence as a Predictor of Age Bias in Social Work Practice with Older Adults
Degree PhD
Department Human Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Blieszner, Rosemary Committee Chair
Mancini, Jay A. Committee Member
Piercy, Fred P. Committee Member
Roberto, Karen A. Committee Member
Teaster, Pamela B. Committee Member
  • ageism
  • age bias
  • prejudice
  • ethics
Date of Defense 2002-12-04
Availability unrestricted

Jane Roberts Abstract

The purpose of this study was the examination of age bias in social work professionals

who have direct and influential contact with a growing segment of the population:

older adults. Those who work most closely with older people may be at risk for

age bias, although much of the research on age bias has been conducted with students

rather than with those who work with older people. This study adds to the research

on prejudice; the sources from which attitudes, values, prejudices, and stereotypical

thinking arise were addressed. Key experiences with older individuals were found

to predict age bias. Because social work ethical principles closely align with

conditions known to reduce prejudice, it was hypothesized that higher ethics adherence

would be associated with less age bias. Specific experiential factors were found

to influence prejudice toward older people. Influences from family beliefs and

from television and other media were associated with a non-biased attitude, as

were influences from caregiving to older people. These sources of one's values

and beliefs about older individuals were also found to predict the extent of one's

knowledge of aging processes. Although ethics adherence was not a predictor of

age bias, the discovery of the influence of family beliefs, media portrayals,

and caregiving experiences revealed a need for awareness of ageist beliefs in

a professional population that works extensively with older adults.

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