Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Applied Communication Research 31:4 (November 2003), pp. 320–345; doi: 10.1080/1369681032000132582


Copyright © 2003 National Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


From a contact theory perspective, links between variation in young adults’ perceptions of communication with their grandparents and attitudes toward older adults are examined. The analysis pays particular attention to variation in communication with multiple grandparents and finds links be-tween that and perceived variability in the older adult population as a whole. More variation in perceptions of communication with grandparents is associated with perceptions of older adults as more heterogeneous. However, variation in grandparent relationships is associated with more negative attitudes toward older adults on measures of attitudinal central tendency. The results are dis-cussed in terms of intergroup communication processes, contact theory and possible interventions to reduce prejudice in this and other contexts.