The present study sought to determine the direction and degree to which occupations representative of all major occupational categories are viewed as age-typed (i.e., more appropriate for older or younger workers). The 60 occupations examined were the 12 most common and familiar occupations in each of five occupational categories used by the U.S. Census Bureau. I randomly assigned 365 participants to one of three survey conditions. Participants rated the feature centrality, proportional representation, normative age, and optimal performance age of 20 of the 60 occupations and the age-type of 20 different occupations. Results showed that participants reliably rated the occupations on a continuum from highly young-typed to highly old-typed. Occupations viewed as most appropriate for older workers included psychologists (clinical), bus drivers, and librarians, whereas those viewed as most appropriate for younger workers included recreation and fitness workers, bartenders, and hosts/hostesses. Interestingly, despite commonly held stereotypes that older workers are less competent than younger workers (Kite, Stockdale, Whitley, & Johnson, 2005), old-typed occupations were viewed as requiring higher competence than those viewed as young-typed. Additionally, roughly three times as many workers are needed to fill the most young-typed jobs compared to the most old-typed jobs (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Both of these findings suggest problems for an increasingly aging workforce (Administration of Aging, 2010). I also found that perceived proportional representation accounted for 79% of the variance in predicting the age-type of occupations. This suggests that people rely on general impressions of current worker ages, which supports career timetables theory‘s approach to the formation of occupational agetype. Implications for theory and research are discussed.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Industrial Organizational Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Reeves, Michael Dennis, "Age-typing Across Occupations When, Where, And Why Age-typing Exists" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1703.