Home Science Biology Older adults like bad stories of young people

An American-German study found that older adults showed higher self-esteem after reading negative stories about young adults. Conversely, young adults did not like reading positive or negative stories about older adults.


The research by Dr. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, an associate professor and researcher from the School of Communications at Ohio State University (Columbus, U.S.A.), and Matthias R. Hastall, a PhD student at Zeppelin University (Friedrichshafen, Germany), was published in The Journal of Communications (September 2010).

Their article is titled 'Please Your Self: Social Identity Effects on Selective Exposure to News About In- and Out-Groups.'

It was first published online on August 18, 2010 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2010.01495.x).

The pair of researchers performed an experiment on same-aged and different-aged adults in Germany (but feel that their conclusions are  valid in other countries where youth is emphasized, such as in the United States).

They used 178 younger adults (from 18 to 30 years of age) and 98 older adults (from 50 to 65 years of age).

The researchers told the subjects that they were being shown a preliminary version of a new online news magazine.

The researchers asked the subjects to browse online news articles. They measured the amount of time they read the various articles, and the content of these stories.

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University