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Title: Societal age stereotypes in the u.S. and u.k. from a media database of 1.1 billion words
Authors: Ng, Reuben 
Keywords: Age discrimination
Aging narratives
Media portrayals of aging
Quantitative social science
Text as data
Issue Date: 21-Aug-2021
Publisher: MDPI
Citation: Ng, Reuben (2021-08-21). Societal age stereotypes in the u.S. and u.k. from a media database of 1.1 billion words. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18 (16) : 8822. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Rights: Attribution 4.0 International
Abstract: Recently, 194 World Health Organization member states called on the international organization to develop a global campaign to combat ageism, citing its alarming ubiquity, insidious threat to health, and prevalence in the media. Existing media studies of age stereotypes have mostly been single-sourced. This study harnesses a 1.1-billion-word media database comprising the British National Corpus and Corpus of Contemporary American English—with genres including spoken/television, fiction, magazines, newspapers—to provide a comprehensive view of ageism in the United Kingdom and United States. The US and UK were chosen as they are home to the largest media conglomerates with tremendous power to shape public opinion. The most commonly used synonym of older adults was identified, and its most frequently used descriptors were analyzed for valence. Such computational linguistics techniques represent a new advance in studying aging narratives. The key finding is consistent, though no less alarming: Negative descriptions of older adults outnumber positive ones by six times. Negative descriptions tend to be physical, while positive ones tend to be behavioral. Magazines contain the highest levels of ageism, followed by the spoken genre, newspapers, and fiction. Findings underscore the need to increase public awareness of ageism and lay the groundwork to design targeted societal campaigns to tackle ageism—one of our generation’s most pernicious threats. © 2021 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Source Title: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
ISSN: 1661-7827
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18168822
Rights: Attribution 4.0 International
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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