Sociology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

October 1990


Published in Journal of Women & Aging, Vol. 2(4) 1990, pp. 55-68. Copyright (c) 1991 by The Haworth Press, Inc. Used by permission.


This content analysis of 139 programs and 2,211 characters updates and extends previous research on the way elderly people, and especially elderly women, are presented on prime-time television. Findings indicate that females and the elderly continue to be significantly underrepresented. Comparisons of elderly men and women showed patterns of traditional stereotypes, with men more likely to be depicted positively on 7 of 9 desirable traits and women more likely to be depicted negatively on 6 of the 7 undesirable traits which showed a gender difference. However, the proportional differences for specific characteristics typically were neither large nor statistically significant, suggesting that there has been some change in television's portrayal of the elderly during the 1980s. It also was noted that television appears to be more accepting and open to the portrayal of older middle-aged men than women in the same age category.

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