The research reported in this article was conducted as a partial requirement for the first author's doctoral dissertation and was also, in part, supported by funds from a University of California at Santa Barbara Academic Senate Grant awarded to the second author. Versions of this article were presented in New Orleans at the Annual Meetings of the Gerontological Society of America (November 1993) and the Speech Communication Association (November 1994), where it was ranked Top Paper in the Commission on Aging and Communication. We are very grateful to Michael Hecht, David Seibold, Barbara Wilson, and Denise Bielby for their input during various phases of this work; Tim Murphy, Wendy Martin, Stephanie Newman, Michael Hanzo, and John Sullivan for their help with coding the data; and Nik Coupland, Cindy Gallois, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this article.
Intergenerational Conversations Young Adults' Retrospective Accounts
Article first published online: 17 MAR 2006
Human Communication Research
Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 220–250, December 1996
How to Cite
WILLIAMS, A. and GILES, H. (1996), Intergenerational Conversations Young Adults' Retrospective Accounts. Human Communication Research, 23: 220–250. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.1996.tb00393.x
- Issue published online: 17 MAR 2006
- Article first published online: 17 MAR 2006
This research was conducted by combining the theoretical insights of communication accommodation theory and the communicative predicament model (CPM) of aging with methodological procedures drawn from the study of interethnic communication. Accordingly, young adult respondents were asked to describe two recent conversations with an older person, one satisfying and the other dissatisfying. Results indicated that older communicators in dissatisfying conversations were characterized as being underaccommodative and negatively expressive and as stereotyping young people. In response, young people frequently characterized themselves as reluctant accommodators. In addition, dissatisfying conversations were judged as more “intergroup” than those that were satisfying. Suggested improvements for dissatisfying conversations often were placed primarily on the shoulders of the older counterparts. In contrast, in satisfying conversations, older interactants were construed as supportive, telling interesting stories, astereotypical of older people, and positively expressive. However, these same encounters often were characterized by mixed positive and negative emotions, and few suggested improvements were proffered. The data are interpreted theoretically in relation to accommodation theory and the CPM as suggesting that both satisfying and dissatisfying intergenerational conversations sustain ageist ideologies.