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Cheer up grumpy old people 'by telling them about bad youths'

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« on: January 22, 2011, 12:04:53 am »
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Cheer up grumpy old people 'by telling them about bad youths'
London, Sept 1 (PTI)

Want to cheer up grumpy old people? Just tell them negative stories about younger people, say researchers. 

A new study by Ohio State University has revealed that few things boost the self-esteem of those over 50 so much as reading about the pratfalls of those still in the first flush of youth.

"Older people and younger people have different goals when they use the media, and it shows in what they choose to read. Our results bolster the argument that people use the media to enhance their social identity.

"Younger people, who are less certain about their own identity, prefer to read about other younger people to see how they live their lives. Older people, on the other hand, have greater certainty regarding their identity.

"However, living in a youth-centred culture, they may appreciate a boost in self-esteem. That's why they prefer the negative stories about younger people, who are seen as having a higher status in our society," lead author Silvia Knobloch -Westerwick was quoted by the 'Daily Express' as saying.

The study asked 178 adults aged 18 to 30 and 98 adults between 50 and 65 to test an online magazine not yet available to the public. All of them were shown a website in a computer laboratory containing 10 carefully prepared stories. Each focused on one individual, but there were two versions -- one had a negative spin and one a positive spin.

One positive article was headlined: "Visitation rights gained after daring protest - demonstration at 100 feet high a success." The negative version had the headline: "Visitation rights denied despite daring protest - demonstration at 100 feet high in vain."
The stories included a photo of the person involved. Half clearly showed an older person and half someone young.

Participants were asked to click on the stories that they found interesting. Each group was given a random mix of positive and negative stories. The results showed that older participants were more likely to select negative articles about younger people.
Younger people showed low interest in articles about older individuals, regardless of whether the stories were positive or negative. After participants finished browsing and evaluating the online magazine, they were given a short questionnaire aimed at measuring their self-esteem.

Younger people showed no difference in the way they saw themselves. But the more that older people read negative stories about younger individuals, the higher their levels of self-esteem tended to be, the findings revealed.The findings have been published in the 'Journal Of Communication'. 
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