Younger Adults' Communication Experiences and Contact With Elders and Peers

Authors

  • SIK HUNG NG,

    1. Sik Hung Ng (Ph.D., Bristol University, 1978) is a professor of psychology, James H. Liu (Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1992) and Ann Weatherall (Ph.D., University of Lancaster, 1994) are lecturers of psychology, and Cynthia S. F. Loong (M. A., Victoria University of Wellington, 1985) is a research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.
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  • JAMES H. LIU,

    1. Sik Hung Ng (Ph.D., Bristol University, 1978) is a professor of psychology, James H. Liu (Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1992) and Ann Weatherall (Ph.D., University of Lancaster, 1994) are lecturers of psychology, and Cynthia S. F. Loong (M. A., Victoria University of Wellington, 1985) is a research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.
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  • ANN WEATHERALL,

    1. Sik Hung Ng (Ph.D., Bristol University, 1978) is a professor of psychology, James H. Liu (Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1992) and Ann Weatherall (Ph.D., University of Lancaster, 1994) are lecturers of psychology, and Cynthia S. F. Loong (M. A., Victoria University of Wellington, 1985) is a research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.
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  • CYNTHIA S. E LOONG

    1. Sik Hung Ng (Ph.D., Bristol University, 1978) is a professor of psychology, James H. Liu (Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1992) and Ann Weatherall (Ph.D., University of Lancaster, 1994) are lecturers of psychology, and Cynthia S. F. Loong (M. A., Victoria University of Wellington, 1985) is a research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.
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  • Completion of this article was supported by grants from Victoria University of Wellington and the Foundation for Research, Science, and Technology (VIC 505). The authors wish to thank Margaret Beard and An-Ping He for their invaluable assistance with carrying out the survey and the interviews. Constructive comments from Mike Allen, Jane Bryson, Jiansheng Guo, John McClure, and Marc Wilson on an earlier draft of this article are gratefully acknowledged, as are those of Cindy Gallois and two reviewers.

Abstract

Intergenerational communication research has overemphasized dissatisfying experiences and treated elderly conversation partners as an undifferentiated category. To redress these limitations, the authors surveyed 100 younger adults' (16–46 years) satisfying and dissatisfying experiences with both family and nonfamily elders, and compared these with own-age peers. Measures of social contact were also taken. As hypothesized, positivity of experiences and contact increased from nonfamily to family elders and to peers. Barriers of communication with nonfamily elders were due to contact more than experiences. For family elders and especially for peers, most measures of contact and experiences were positive. The authors also tested for effects due to respondents' gender and culture (New Zealanders of Chinese or European descent). Females had more positive experiences and contact on some of the measures. Views about elders held by Chinese were more favorable, yet this did not translate into improved experiences or contact.

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