Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Psychological and Brain Sciences

Committee Chair

Meeks, Suzanne

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Murrell, Stan

Committee Member

Murrell, Stan

Committee Member

Leichty, Greg

Author's Keywords

Elderly adults


This study examined the effects of several factors in elderly respondents' evaluations of neutral and patronizing speech by nurses toward elderly targets. Thirty-eight nursing home and 62 community Caucasian elderly women viewed two videotaped vignettes, one in which a nurse spoke to an elder target in a patronizing tone, and one with a neutral tone. Both samples rated the nurse more favorably, rated the elder target more satisfied with the conversation, and assumed that the nurse-elder dyad knew each other better when the nurse's speech was neutral as opposed to patronizing. Contrary to what was predicted, community elders did not rate patronizing speech any less favorably than did the nursing home sample. As predicted cognitive ability covaried significantly with speech ratings in both samples, such that speech style did not predict any unique variance in respondents' evaluations after accounting for the effects of cognitive ability. Cognitive ability predicted favorable ratings of neutral speech, but not negative ratings of patronizing speech. Contrary to what was predicted, length of institutionalization was not a significant factor in nursing home elders' speech style ratings. Community respondents rated the elder targets of patronizing speech as less competent and active/potent than the elder targets of neutral speech, suggesting a “blaming the victim” effect. In contrast to what was predicted, the target elder's residence was not a significant factor in community respondents' evaluations of speech styles or elder target's competence and activity/potency. However, the manipulation of the elder target's residence was most likely not salient enough to produce the predicted effect.

Included in

Psychology Commons