Background. The relevance of the study is determined by the limited and sometimes contradictory studies of the views of preschoolers about the elderly. Stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination against older people can manifest themselves in children at an early age. However, the nature of the formation and the factors influencing this phenomenon are not well known.
Objective. The aim of the study was to study the features of the image of an old person in a children’s sample, depending on the (in) ability to communicate with their grandparents. Research hypothesis: preschoolers with a lack of communication with the older generation will demonstrate a rather neutral image of an old person, and the presence of an emotional component will be expressed in the constructor of the image of children with a sufficient level of communication with their grandparents.
Design. The research involved 67 child-parent dyads: 67 preschoolers aged 5 to 6.8 years (56.7% girls and 43.3% boys); 67 parents (85.1% of mothers and 14.9% of fathers) aged 23 to 59. As research methods to study the representations (image) of an old person in the childrens sample, the projective method of the drawing test was used. “Directed associative experiment “ method and questioning were used in the parental sample. The questionnaire included questions aimed at studying the relationship of the grandparents with the child and the opinions of parents about the problem and (non) participation of grandparents in raising grandchildren.
Results. In the childrens sample, the image of an old person is rather stereotypically neutral, but at the same time has certain specific features. The importance of the quality of communication between a child and his grandparents was shown, which determines the emotional coloring of the perception of the forming image of old people and old age in general. For children who experienced “lack of communication” with their ancestors, the image of an old person is personalized with “strangers” or “nobody’s old men.” In the parental sample the presented associations demonstrate a view of the “negative and positive” image of an old person through the prism of (non) preservation of vital competence, functional well-being, and a dynamic health / illness system. A neutral image is represented by respondents as a variant of entering the new status of a retiree and grandparent. No mutual influence was found between parental and childish views.
Conclusions. A child of preschool age can demonstrate his own unique view of an old person, which is not at all identical to the views of his parents, those around him and social stereotypes. The experience of a constructive relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can serve as a reliable basis for constructing a positive image of an old person and old age in general by young children. The prospect of further research can be the study of the problem of psychological culture and the readiness of an elderly person to dialogue with a child; problems of organizing effective “combining old and small” programs, mutually enriching the dialogue of generations.
Naumova V.A., Glozman J.M. (2021). Representations of old age in chilhood. National Psychological Journal, [Natsional’nyy psikhologicheskiy zhurnal], 2021, (41)1, 160-174. doi: 10.11621/npj.2021.0113