Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Skye Leedahl


With the rapid aging of the population as well as increasing diversity in United State, research on ageism and intergenerational relationships is increasingly warranted. Ageism, or the prejudicial attitudes towards older adults, is seen as one of the most prevalent preconceived judgments that can cause poor treatment, and may even decrease levels of confidence, happiness, and health for older adults (Bishop, 2016). Intergenerational programs can provide many benefits for both younger and older adults, including developing positive changes in attitude towards aging (Wescott & Healy, 2011). Currently, the University of Rhode Island (URI) Engaging Generations: Cyber-Seniors program was developed to bring students and older adults together in order to help older adults learn more about using technology, and support students to promote more positive attitudes towards older adults. Most of the research on the topic of ageism has been focused on the impact of the fear of death, anxiety of older adults toward their own aging, and the fear of aging. Therefore, the role of personality traits for younger adults on ageism and changes in ageism is less well studied (e.g. Bodner et al., 2015; Galton, 2019).

Intergenerational programs can provide many benefits for both younger and older adults, including developing positive changes in attitudes (Wescott & Healy, 2011). Since, younger adults tend to demonstrate the higher levels of ageism towards older adults (Donizzetti, 2019), the aim of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of intergenerational programming participation for students related to attitudes toward older adults, apprehension toward older adults, and empathy toward older adults. Additionally, the current study builds on existing knowledge by examining the associations between personality traits, ageism, and changes in ageism since the role of personality traits towards ageism or change in ageism is, to the author’s knowledge, understudied in the ageism literature. Data for this study was taken from pre/post student surveys. SPSS software was used to conduct descriptive analysis, paired-sample t tests, correlation, and regression. Results showed significant decreases in ageism following participation in the program. The results also indicated that the traits of Conscientiousness, Agreeableness and Extraversion were found to have significant associations with less ageism towards older adults.



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