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Over 50? You probably prefer negative stories about young people
Date:8/30/2010

10 carefully pre-tested stories. Each story focused on one individual, but there were two different versions: one that had a negative spin and one with a positive spin (each participant was offered just one of the two versions).

For example, one positive article was headlined (translated here from German) "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 were clearly an older person and half were clearly a younger person.

Participants in the study were told they would not have time to read all the stories and were asked to click on the stories that they found interesting. Each was given a random mix of positive and negative stories about younger and older people.

The computer secretly logged which stories each participant clicked on and how long they spent reading each article.

All of the stories were extensively pretested by other participants to ensure that the stories were clearly positive or negative, and that the photos were clearly differentiated by age and that the people pictured were similar in how likeable they appeared, Knobloch-Westerwick said.

Results showed that the older participants were more likely to select negative articles about younger people, but they did not show a strong preference for either positive or negative stories about people in their own age group.

Younger people showed low interest in articles about older individuals regardless of whether the stories were positive or negative. They did choose to read more positive stories about their own age group than they did negative stories, she said.

After participants finished browsing and evaluating the online magazine, they were given a short questionnaire aimed at measuring their self-esteem.<
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Contact: Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick
Knobloch-Westerwick.1@osu.edu
614-247-6801
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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