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See detailPositivity in aged’s perceptions of intergenerational relationships: A “stake” or a “leniency” effect?
Winkeler, Markus; Filipp, Sigrun-Heide; Boll, Thomas UL

in International Journal of Behavioral Development (2000), 24(2), 173-182

The ‘‘developmental stake hypothesis’’ has been proposed for the frequent finding that aged parents consistently report higher levels of closeness to and consensus with their (adult) children than these ... [more ▼]

The ‘‘developmental stake hypothesis’’ has been proposed for the frequent finding that aged parents consistently report higher levels of closeness to and consensus with their (adult) children than these children do themselves. This study investigated an alternative hypothesis: Drawing on research on prosocial behaviour in old age, it proposes that the aged tend to construe all social relationships in a positively biased manner (‘‘leniency hypothesis’’). Using a quasi-experimental (vignette) approach, scenarios describing two family members discussing a controversial issue were presented to 809 middle-aged (aged 40 to 50 years) and aged subjects (65 to 75 years). The lineage composition of the dyads of family members in the scenarios (i.e. aged parent and adult child vs. two adult siblings) was varied systematically as a between-subjects factor, and the controversial issue was varied as a within-subjects factor. Dependent variables were the participants’ evaluative and prescriptive judgements on the protagonists’ behaviour and the quality of their relationship. Overall, results showed that the aged perceived all scenarios in a significantly more positive light than middle-aged participants, regardless of their lineage composition. Thus, a ‘‘positivity bias’’ was observed in judgements of both intergenerational as well as intragenerational dyads, and it is concluded that the leniency hypothesis provides a better account of these findings than the stake hypothesis. [less ▲]

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