Date of Conferral







Walter McCollum


Marketing decision makers often employ stereotypes in their advertising messages, but constant exposure to negative messages is offensive to older consumers and contributes toward ageism. The general problem is that many senior adults feel dissatisfied with advertising directed toward them and may not purchase products that they could otherwise enjoy. Based on the tenets of social identity theory, the purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of a group of senior consumers toward the stereotypes used to portray older adult models featured in magazine advertisements by uncovering the factors that influence purchasing decisions and the stereotypes that are most offensive and least offensive. Study participants included 30 self-selected volunteers living in Maryland and ranging in age from 70 to 85 years. Each participant ranked 40 magazine advertisements that featured a variety of potentially offensive age-related stereotypes. Analysis of the data included correlation, factor analysis, and factor scores. Three unique factors emerged from the data, which were termed Pioneers, Unpredictables, and Cupids. Pioneers, Unpredictables, and Cupids had 17, 18, and 15 distinguishing advertisements, respectively, each at a 95% confidence level. Participants found stereotypes portraying older adults as sickly or weak to be the most offensive. Stereotypes highlighting active lifestyles and loving relationships were least offensive. This study has implications for social change by increasing awareness of the negative effects of ageism in magazine advertisements. Understanding how senior adults perceive stereotypes presented in advertisements may challenge generalizations and facilitate their happiness, health, and positive identity formation.