Faculty Articles

Estoy Viejo' (I'm Old): Internalized Ageism as Self-Referential, Negative, Ageist Speech in the Republic of Panama

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Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology








Ageism is a form of discrimination that anyone may experience at some point in life (Palmore 2004). Yet ageism is rarely the focus of behavioral research (Nelson 2005). Age can be understood as a social construct that reflects social norms (Lemus and Exposito 2005). Based on our review of the published literature, there were two studies on perceptions of aging among Latina/os in the United States (Beyene et al. 2002; Sarkisian et al. 2006). These studies investigated perceptions and expectations of aging among older Latina/o adults rather than direct experiences of ageism. It is important to note that Latina/os are not a homogenous group and that there are within-group differences. For this reason, this study explored internalized, negative ageism specifically in the Republic of Panama. Although Panama has unique characteristics, it also reflects Central American culture and therefore should provide initial insights regarding Central American self-referential, negative, ageist talk, which we labeled "Estoy viejo." Flanagan's Critical Incident Technique was used to access and understand participants' (ages 18-65) negative ageist talk (n=159). Participants who reported engaging in "Estoy viejo." (46.3% of those sampled) were significantly younger than participants who did not (p< .05). One potential explanation is that younger participants may have been more influenced by North American culture and its strongly negative ageist stereotypes than older participants, who may have identified primarily with Central American culture.



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