Age and the Quality of Social Experience Questionnaire

Excerpt from Questionnaire :

Old Age

A) The authors surveyed 122 adults in three groups (young, middle aged and older) and expected that older adults would receive the most unsolicited advice and offers of support, and also more likely to find these unwelcome than the younger and middle aged groups. They found that older adults, especially those living alone, received fewer offers than the younger groups, but all groups had "the same level of unpleasant affect" (p. 227). Older people were particularly likely to find offers or advice unwelcome if their compentecy was questioned.

B) Most people in the study received advice from sugnifucant ithers such as spouses and relatives (58%), compared to 28% that came from friends and 14% from strangers, and 56% reported that knowing the person made them more liklely to regard the advice as pleasant (p. 236).

C1) All participants reported receiving more advice associated with everyday cognition, competence and health than with finance and life management. Younger adults received more unwanted advice about age identity and cognition, and older adults less advice about finances and life management than the younger and middle-aged groups. No age differences appeared in health adive and tangible aid (p. 234).

C2) Regardless of age the German participants demonstrated a "considerable consensus" about the type of offers and advice they regarded as unpleasant. They also shared certain norms about the circumstances under which advice should be offered and on which subjects (p. 241). American culture would probably be less formal about social status and interactions than the Germans and freer in giving and offering advice. Older Germans especially would be more formal and authoritarian than Americans, and would also share certain memories about the Second World War that would have no equivalent in the United States. For example, the 'euthanasia' program in Nazi Germany targeted the mentally ill, the handicapped and those perceived to be of 'lesser value' to society, which would make these very sensitive subjects. In addition, American society would be more diverse and pluralistic than the U.S. so the cultural norms and reactions might be less rigid and predictable.

D1) Adolescents would probably resemble the young adults in this study, about 35% of which were university students and whose median age was about 25 (p. 232). They would almost all be living in families which means they would receive advice from parents and other close relatives. Unlike the elderly, almost none would be living alone, which means they would be receiving offers of support more frequently, including the type that would be perceived as controlling and interfering with every aspect of life, from money to life management, and would have the least amount of control over these interactions, whether they were welcome or not.

D2) Older adults with a median age of 90, especially those living alone or in some kind of supervised care situation would probably react like the 79- to 80-year-olds in this study. They would probably be likely to protect or insulate themselves from unwelcome encounters and offers of support, especially from a younger person or some perceived to be impolite or too interfering. If offers of advice and support were infrequent, they would be even more likely to perceive them as unpleasant and to "avoid interactions that call their competencies of their value into question" (p. 242). These older adults would be more receptive on unsolicited offers if they were made for reasons of friendliness or communication, or if they perceived the person offering the advice was genuinely concerned about their welfare. They would be more concerned with protecting the self-esteem of others, to resent interference and discount unwanted advice and offers of support.

A1) The authors intended to answer three main questions, including the frequency of unasked-for support and advice, the extent to which they found these to be pleasant or unpleasant, and the reasons for these perceptions. They asked the 122 participants who often they had received offers of support in 35 situations, measured their reaction on a four-point scale, and also identified the source of the offer, such as a relative, friend or stranger. In addition, the participants responded to others surveys about their strategies for dealing with unwanted advice, whether ignoring, accommodating or discounting it, and their beliefs about norms of giving advice and whether these were violated in a…

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