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The quality of contacts with older adults and the positive or negative presentation of older adults to others are key determinants of ageism

Marques S, Mariano J, Mendonca J, De Tavernier W, Hess M, Naegele L et al.  Determinants of ageism against older adults: A systematic review  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020 April.

Review question

  • What are the determinants of ageism and what interventions can be implemented to reduce ageism and mitigate its armful impacts?


How the review was done

  • A detailed search of a number of electronic databases was conducted in December 2017 for studies done in 1970 and onwards. Studies that focused on ageism, adults aged 50+ and the determinants of ageism were included.
  • A total of 13,691 studies were identified in searches and 199 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.
  • This study was funded by the Portuguese national funding agency for science, research and technology.


What the researchers found

  • Personality traits and individual psychological factors are determinants of self-directed ageism (negative feelings about oneself getting old). Fear and anxiety of aging is a determinant of ageism towards others (negative feelings towards other older people).
  • Contact with older people is important in reducing ageism. The quality of contacts and how older people are presented are more important that then frequency of contacts.
  • Older people should be portrayed positively in the mass media as positive associations with a group of people reduces stereotyping against them.¬†


  • Ageism is a major threat to optimal aging and exists on many levels. Individual factors relating to ageism include psychological processes and emotions.
  • More research is needed on the role of institutional and cultural factors in ageism.
  • The factors found in this study might not be generalizable, as the majority of the studies in this systematic review were conducted in English-speaking countries with young, female participants.

Related Topics


Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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