Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The present study was designed to examine the validity of generally held assumptions of decreased attitudinal flexibility in the aged. A preliminary study preceded the formal study and identified a target attitude, sources of varying credibility, and evaluated self-esteem as a possible confounding variable. Subsequently 40 college age and 40 senior citizen subjects' attitude toward the Equal Rights Amendment were measured by a paper and pencil survey. Two weeks later an anti- E.R.A. attitude change message, attributed to sources of varying age and credibility, was presented and its impact measured by a posttest survey. Follow-up measures were taken three weeks later.

An analysis of covariance yielded a significant subject age effect at the posttest with greater attitude change exhibited by the senior citizens. Neither source age nor source credibility main effects reached significance and there were no significant interactions. On the follow-up measure there were no significant main effects or interactions, though subject age approached significance. The results were interpreted as being contrary to assumptions of increased rigidity in the elderly and not supportive of the decrement model of aging. Methodological difficulties were discussed with respect to the results found and further research was recommended.