Published by Oxford University Press. The online version of this article has been published under an open access model.
There was widespread cross-cultural consensus regarding the expected direction of aging trajectories with 1 perceived declines in societal views of aging, physical attractiveness, the ability to perform everyday tasks, and new learning, 2 perceived increases in wisdom, knowledge, and received respect, and 3 perceived stability in family authority and life satisfaction.
Cross-cultural variations in aging perceptions were associated with culture-level indicators of population aging, education levels, values, and national character stereotypes. These associations were stronger for societal views on aging and perceptions of socioemotional changes than for perceptions of physical and cognitive changes.
A consideration of culture-level variables also suggested that previously reported differences in aging perceptions between Asian and Western countries may be related to differences in population structure.
Aging, stereotypes, cross-cultural, values, national character stereotypes Perceptions of aging influence societal behaviors and expectations towards older people e.
The majority of studies in this field have focused on individual differences in perceptions of aging within mostly Western cultures, but there is growing evidence that views of aging may differ across cultures as well e. The present study extends previous research by comparing multiple aspects of aging perceptions across 26 cultures and examining their culture-level associates.
To provide the background for this work, we review previous research on intercultural differences in perceptions of aging and discuss theoretical perspectives on the causes of such differences.
According to social representations theory Moscovici,the views of aging held within a given culture are a form of shared cultural representation.
They constitute systems of ideas, values, and customs related to aging that are treated by members of the society as if they were established reality. Perceptions of aging are multi-dimensional in nature e. To the extent that aging perceptions reflect such biologically based differences in functioning, one might expect to see comparatively little variation across cultures.
Perceptions of age related changes in these characteristics may therefore show a greater extent of cross-cultural variation. Previous research has explored several potential explanations for intercultural differences in perceptions of aging.
Early studies which focused on socioeconomic predictors found that higher levels of economic development and industrialization are associated with less favorable attitudes towards aging and a lower societal status of older adults e. Modernization theory Cowgill, ; explained such findings by arguing that a shift towards industrialized modes of production undermines the societal status of older adults, devalues their experience-based knowledge, breaks up traditional extended families through urbanization, and shifts control over the means of production from family elders to industrial entities Cowgill, Although intuitively appealing, modernization theory has been criticized as an oversimplification e.
This body of work was inspired by the idea that Asian societies are influenced by Confucian values of filial piety and the practice of ancestor worship which are thought to promote positive views of aging and high esteem for older adults e.
Western societies, in contrast, were thought to be youth-oriented and to hold more negative views about the aging process and the elderly e. Empirical evidence for the proposed East-West differences is scarce. Although some studies have found support for the notion that aging attitudes are more positive in Asian as compared to Western cultures e.
In summary, there is some evidence that both socioeconomic development and cultural values and beliefs may matter for cross-cultural differences in aging attitudes.
However, findings are limited in several important aspects. For one, most previous studies included only small groups of countries.
In fact, the vast majority of the literature consists of pairwise comparisons.
Among the exceptions are one study that compared five countries Harwood et al. Conclusions that can be drawn from the previous literature are also limited because studies used a wide array of measures ranging from open-ended descriptions of older and younger adults Bodoruglu et al.
This makes it difficult to integrate findings into a generalized cross-cultural pattern of aging attitudes. Moreover, cultural differences in values and beliefs are frequently inferred from broad classifications into Eastern versus Western countries see Giles et al.
This approach glosses over variations among individual Asian cultures, ignores cultures that cannot be classified as Eastern or Western, confounds cross-cultural differences in socioeconomic factors and value systems, and fails to pinpoint the specific aspects of cultural values that are most relevant in shaping perceptions of aging.
Decades of cross-cultural research have yielded comprehensive data regarding culturally shared values e. To date, this rich body of knowledge has not been adequately linked to cross-cultural differences in aging perceptions.Historic overview of philosophies, institutions, and characteristics of Indian societies, and indigenous constructions of historic knowledge.
members, and non-members and tribal taxation. Finally, a brief comparative analysis will be made with respect to taxation and First Nations in Canada. and semantic problems in a non-Western. ANTH Family and Kinship in Cross-Cultural Perspective (4, 2 years, Sp) Comparative examination of family and kinship in tribal, peasant, and complex societies, emphasizing non-Western cultures, societal and normative consequences of forms and functions in family.
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