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Age diversity and individual team member health: The moderating role of age and age stereotypes

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Susanne C. Liebermann, Institute of Work-Organizational and Social Psychology, Technische Universitaet Dresden, Dresden 01062, Germany (e-mail: liebermann@psychologie.tu-dresden.de).

Abstract

Applying social identity theory and the relational demography approach, this paper proposes that the effect of age diversity on individual team members' health is contingent on the individual age as well as on age stereotypes. We suggest that younger and older employees' health is negatively associated with age diversity, while middle-aged team members' health is not affected. We further postulate that age stereotypes strengthen the negative effect of age diversity for the younger age group, while they weaken the effect for older employees. For middle-aged team members, age stereotypes are expected not to determine the relationship between age diversity and health. We tested our hypotheses based on data from a representative sample of the German workforce (n = 1,214). The results fully confirmed our hypotheses.

Practitioner Points

  • Organizations have to be aware that age diversity can undermine the health of older and younger team members.
  • We found that younger team members' health is only affected by working in age-diverse teams if they hold negative stereotypical views about older team colleagues. In contrast, older team members' health is only affected if they do not hold negative stereotypical views about older employees.
  • Accordingly, we advise taking steps to reduce the age stereotypes of younger team members in age-diverse teams.

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