Assessment of the refined aging semantic differential: Recommendations for enhancing validity

Ernest Gonzales, Jing Tan, Nancy Morrow-Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Aging Semantic Differential (ASD) by Rosencranz and McNevin (1969) is the most widely used instrument in gerontological and geriatric education to assess the stereotypic attitudes young people have toward older adults. Polizzi (2003) updated the ASD with current adjectives and reduced the instrument to a single latent factor, attitude. We examine the validity of this major instrument and describe the strengths and shortcomings. The instrument was administered to 199 medical students that participated in a national pilot project, Vital Visionaries, funded by National Institute on Aging. Confirmatory factory analysis using structural equation modeling (SEM) was used. Qualitative data captured stereotypic attitudes young people have toward older adults. SEM indexes suggest that a one-factor structure has poor fit. Qualitative analyses suggest medical students hold multiple dimensions of stereotypic attitudes toward older adults. We suggest that the latent factor, attitude, can be assessed with fewer observed items, thereby creating room for the additional latent factors. The resulting instrument could be just as short, but offer a more comprehensive assessment of young people's stereotypic attitudes toward older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-318
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2010



  • Ageism
  • Attitudes
  • Instrument
  • Measurement
  • Scale
  • Structural equation modeling
  • The aging semantic differential
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)

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