Background: It is commonly assumed that age-related stereotypes are more positive in East Asian cultures compared to Western cultures. However, research conducted in Western cultures has demonstrated that age-related stereotypes are multidimensional and their valence is content-dependent. Objective: In this study we investigated stereotypes about young and old adults, held by both young and old in the US and in China by focusing on the valence of age stereotypes across two content domains: social/emotional and mental/physical. The goal was to identify whether there were any cultural differences in age-related stereotypes in Chinese and American cultures. Methods: Both young and old Chinese and American participants were asked to describe typical young and typical old people. All responses were then coded for valence (positive/negative/neutral) and for content (mental/physical, social/emotional, other). Descriptors about young and old people were initially analyzed separately; then data were integrated to examine group tendencies to be more positive or negative for each target age group. Results: In both cultures, stereotypes reflected a shift from more positive to increasingly negative views of mental and physical traits as a function of aging. In social and emotional domains, stereotypes regarding old and young adults were relatively neutral, except for a small positive bias found among the young Chinese adults for both target age groups. Conclusion: Our results indicate that age-related beliefs regarding typical older adults are similar across East-Asian and Western cultures and that a global positive bias for old age in East-Asia is absent.

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