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The effects of stereotypes on capabilities in crisis

Conference contribution
Authors Gabriella Sandstig
Published in ICRCC, BRIDGING THE GAPS, 11–13 March 2019, Orlando, Florida
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Language en
Subject categories Media and Communications


In the event of a crises the news media have a central role in the dissemination of information to the general public and especially to the elderly. A message about crisis management should be perceived as useful, be action oriented and strengthen us in believing that we can handle the crisis. But there is an information paradox - the elderly who need crisis information are often stereotyped as weak and vulnerable in crisis reporting. Will the elderly therefore believe that their own ability is worse than it really is to deal with the crisis? With regards to the ability to prepare for crises, older people are often better than younger. On the other hand, we know less about the elders' perceptions and abilities to cope with crises. There is an assumption within risk communication research that negative stereotypes about aging can lead to elderly feeling older and more helpless than they in fact are, but this assumption has not been tested. In this study therefore the effects of stereotypical descriptions of the elderly as vulnerable to a crisis on the elderly's capabilities in crisis is tested. The study is based on a large-scale experiment of citizens in Sweden using the Citizen Panel at the University of Gothenburg scheduled February 2019 and preliminary results in March. One group is exposed to risk communication in a news context with stereotypical descriptions of the elderly as vulnerable, a second group to the descriptions of capable and competent elderly and a third group is exposed to a neutral message.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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