The measurement and modification of the attitudes of college students toward older workers



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The investigation had four primary objectives: (a) the characterization of subjects exhibiting varying degrees of favorableness and unfavorableness of attitudes about older workers; (b) the development of a training program for employees directed toward modifying these attitudes, presenting the known facts about older people with special emphasis on older workers in business and industry; (c) the comparison of two types of training programs - a lecture presentation and small group discussions; and (d) the measurement of the change which took place as a result of the training program. The subjects for the investigation were students enrolled in seven undergraduate classes in the Departments of Psychology and Biology at Abilene Christian College. There were four experimental groups and three control groups. There were no significant age differences between the experimental and control groups. Experimental and control subjects were given the following measures before training began: 1. Tuckman and Lorge Older Worker Questionnaire. 2. Tuckman and Lorge Older People Questionnaire. 3. Questionnaire About Problems of Older Employees. 4. Rokeach Dogmatism Scale. 5. California F Scale. 6. Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values. 7. Open-End Essay Problem. 8. Incomplete Sentence Stems. The Open-End Essay Problem and the Incomplete Sentence Stems were used as pretest and posttest instruments. On the pretests, the differences between the means of the experimental and control groups were not significant; hence, they may be regarded as equivalent. Two types of training programs were formulated! (a) a lecture presentation, and (b) a presentation of the same material by discussion techniques. Each of the lecture and discussion programs consisted of two fifty-minute periods of instruction. Because of the religious background of the subjects, the hypotheses relating to religious and social values were included to test the concept that these values would vary directly with attitudes manifested toward older workers. A significant correlation (.05 level) was obtained between the religious values of men and attitudes toward older workers. When considering the same variables (religious values and attitudes), correlations obtained for all subjects and women were not significant. Correlations between social values and degree of hostility were significant for men (.025 level) and all subjects (.025 level). Significant relationships (.01 level) were evidenced between the California F Scale and the Older People and Older Worker Questionnaires. No significant relationship was found to involve the F Scale and the Questionnaire About Problems of Older Employees. Subjects in the lecture and discussion groups manifested an increased positive attitude as a consequence of training. Discussion-group training resulted in a greater positive change in attitude toward older workers than lecture presentations. Subjects in discussion sessions who were high on religious values showed a significantly greater change in their attitudes than subjects with identical value structures in lecture groups Degree of dogmatism evidenced by subjects appeared to be a significant factor in attitude change. Those subjects who were high on the Rokeach Dogmatism Scale and were also hostile to older workers made less of a change as a result of training than hostile subjects who were low or in the middle range on the Dogmatism Scale.



College students--Attitudes., Older people--Employment.