All the adults in the study were shown what they were led to believe was a test version of a new online news magazine. They were also given a limited time to look over either a negative and positive version of 10 pre-selected articles. Each story was also paired with a photograph depicting someone of either the younger or the older age group. The researchers found that older people were more likely to choose to read negative articles about those younger than themselves. They also tended to show less interest in articles about older people, whether negative or positive.The study concluded that this is a result of a youth-centric society, and that stories which take young people down a few notches serve to boost the self-esteem of older readers.
I wonder whether this factor, plus the aging of the baby boom cohort and the populist bent of the market-driven media, could be behind so many beatups in the news, from scare stories about killer hoodies to dire warnings about internet addiction, shrinking attention spans and the imminent collapse of civilisation as we know it. (And whether, historically, the same factor has played a part in fuelling moral panics about youth-oriented trends such as rock'n'roll music, comic books, swing dancing, and so on.)
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