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Friendships, family relationships get better with age thanks to forgiveness, stereotypes
Date:6/25/2010

d conflict and not react, but the opposite was found if the offending character was younger. When participants read a story in which a young adult committed a social faux pas, they thought other characters should confront that person and tell them they were upset.

These assumptions play out in daily interactions that Fingerman compares to a dance.

"Each person is acting and reacting in response to his or her partner, and, in this case, each partner is anticipating the next person's move, and that determination is often based on age," she said. "People vary their behavior with social partners depending on their age. When there is a negative interaction, younger people are generally more aggressive and confrontational than older people are. But younger people often are more accommodating to older people when there is a negative interaction."

For example, an older adult may be more cordial because of the assumption that a younger person may be confrontational. At the same time, the younger adult may conform to age stereotypes that indicate they should be more patient with an older person or they may hold stereotypes that older adults cannot change and do not attempt to change this person.

"Also, with age, people get better at regulating their emotions when something upsets them," Fingerman said. "The other advantage is that older people often have more opportunity to select who they want to associate with because they are retired and do not go to work."

Other reasons for better treatment of older adults reflect care, concern and cherishing the moment. No matter the age, people are going to be more pleasant if they perceive that there is little time left in a relationship, Fingerman said. That applies not just to people who are elderly, but even young people who may not see each other because of life changes such as moving out of state or serving in the military. When time is limited, people want to make the most of their rem
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Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert
apatterson@purdue.edu
765-494-9723
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

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