Words Can Kill: The Consequences of Ageist Communication on Older Male Nurses' Psychological Disengagement and Self-esteem

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In the industrialized world, aging workers are still the target of negative stereotypes and discrimination based on age. The main goal of the two following studies is to evaluate psychological reactions of male nurses aged 45 years old and above to differential treatment based on age. Precisely, the goal of the first study is to test the Prestigious Work Domain Model of Psychological Disengagement previously obtained among female nurses (Lagacé, Tougas, 2006). Structural equation analysis run through a sample of 236 Canadian technician male nurses have confirmed the model and in doing so, provides a demonstration that it does apply in the case of workers with a low status in a prestigious domain; male and technician nurses have a low work status. The model shows that the more a male nurse aged 45 years old and above feels relatively deprived, the more he discredits; this discrediting process leads to devaluation, which in turn lowers self-esteem. The second study underlies three goals, stated as followed : 1) an additional test of the Prestigious Work Domain Model of Disengagement among 419 Canadian clinician male nurses; 2) an extension of this model through the addition of the « ageist communication » variable as a precursor of personal relative deprivation; 3) the construction of an ageist communication scale. Structural equation analysis have confirmed again that devaluating a prestigious domain has a negative impact on self-esteem, no matter what the worker’s gender nor his status within that domain. Moreover, these results demonstrate the central role that communication plays as a transmitter of ageism and in turn, as a precursor of an aging worker’s feeling of resentment. The discussion touches upon implications of aging worker’s reactions to differential treatment as well as the consequences of ageist language and communication practices in the work place.

Keywords: Ageist Communication, Psychological Disengagement, Self Esteem, Aging Workers, Prestigious Work Domain Model of Psychological Disengagement, Differential Treatment, Relative Deprivation
Stream: Psychology, Cognitive Science and Behavioural Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Martine Lagacé

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Canada

Martine Lagacé is an assistant professor at the Department of Communication, University of Ottawa in Canada. Dr. Lagacé, who holds a Ph.D. in social psychology, does research on intergenerational communication in the workplace, stereotypes based on age, identity and intergroup relations. She has been teaching research methods courses for the last several years at the Department. Dr. Lagacé also has co-written a book in French on Research Methods in Communication published by Gaëtan Morin in 2006. She has published in French and English in several academic journals as « les Cahiers internationaux de psychologie sociale » and « The International Journal of Aging & Human Development». She is currently a member of the Editing Board for the Canadian academic journal «Vie et vieillissement». Professor Lagacé also has extensive professional expertise in communication, having worked for several years as a radio and television journalist for CBC Radio-Canada and as a spokesperson at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canada.

Dr. Francine Tougas

Professor, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Canada

Dr. Joelle Laplante

Ph.D. Candidate, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Canada

Neveu Jean-François

Undergraduate Student, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Canada

Ref: I08P0019