Terror Management Theory Applied To Ageism In Film

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Terror Management Theory applied to Ageism in Film
Frida Ramirez
Lone Star College – University Park

Terror Management Theory applied to Ageism in Film
Ageism (prejudice toward the elderly) is becoming a pressing issue as the population of adults over sixty proliferates (Levy & Macdonald, 2016, p. 5). Enforcers of ageist stereotypes include the mainstream film industry. By enforcing a negative stereotype, the media subconsciously implements fear of growing old and ultimately dying among its viewers. To begin eliminating stereotypes research of origins of these ageist views must take place. Terror Management Theory (TMT) has been a leading theory in ageist attitudes research (Martens, Goldenberg & Greenberg, 2005; O’Connor & McFadden,
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224). These symbolic solutions may also create a sense of mortality for the individual by contributing to a culture that will continue after their death, i.e., they are immortal (Popham, Kennison & Bradley, 2011, 752). Research shows that putting faith in religion makes individuals less vulnerable to mortality salience and death-thoughts (Wojtkowiak, Rutjens, 2011). Therefore, the solution of immortality creates a resolution for death-thoughts but in turn is a coping mechanism to avoid thoughts of our mortality as well.
Ageism in Young-Adults
Ageism, in correlation with TMT, stems from an innate fear of death causing individuals to distance themselves from the elderly. Ageism refers to the discrimination and prejudice to a specific age group, mainly used to describe discrimination toward the elderly. When coupled with TMT, ageism develops in people via coping against mortality salience and denying the body’s physicality (Martens, Goldenberg & Greenberg, 2005, p. 226; O’Connor & McFadden, 629, 2012). Humans innately fear to die, and aging is the path toward death thus, the fear of aging results. When individuals interact with the elderly, they see an inescapable fate of their own. Now, ageism, coupled with TMT, is a culmination of many fears toward aging. Martens, Goldenberg and Greenberg (2005) propose the main factors contributing toward ageism include the threat

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