Older workers’ representation and age-based stereotype threats in the workplace

Eduardo Oliveira*, Carlos Cabral-Cardoso

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which negative age-based metastereotypes mediate the relationship between the representation of older workers and two forms of stereotype threat in the workplace: own-reputation and group-reputation. Adopting a social identity perspective, this paper also explores whether age diversity beliefs moderate the relationship between negative age-based metastereotypes and stereotype threats. Design/methodology/approach: A cross-sectional design was adopted with bootstrapped mediation and moderation analyses. The data were collected from 567 older workers working in 15 manufacturing companies. Findings: The analyses provide support for partial mediation and for a moderation effect of age diversity beliefs in the relationship between negative age-based metastereotypes and own-reputation threat. The results hold while controlling for age, objective organizational age diversity, and organizational tenure. Research limitations/implications: The limitations of this study include its cross-sectional nature and the need for further work regarding older workers’ metastereotypes about middle-aged workers. Practical implications: For stereotype threat interventions to be effective they must identify beforehand the target and the source of the threat. Moreover, interventions should aim for the development of a sense of identity on the organization as it may pave the way for members of different age groups to build bonds and for intergenerational boundaries to be blurred. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the literature by showing the importance of negative age-based metastereotypes in workplace age dynamics. It also provides further support for a multi-threat approach to the experience of age-based stereotype threats in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-268
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Age diversity beliefs
  • Age-based stereotype threats
  • Negative age-based metastereotypes
  • Older workers’ representation

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