Intentions to work with older adults: a critical exploration of psychology students’ motivations and ambition

Fothergill, R. and Bromnick, R. (2016) Intentions to work with older adults: a critical exploration of psychology students’ motivations and ambition. In: British Psychological Society Annual Conference, 26 - 28 April 2016, Nottingham.

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24567 BPS_abstract_2016 RF RB.docx - Abstract

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Poster)
Item Status:Live Archive


Objectives: Previous studies offer insight into volunteering intentions and career aspirations but reveal little about work with older adults. Given the aging population, this research investigates attitudes towards older adults amongst Psychology undergraduates. Associated volunteer intentions and motivations, as well as career aspirations were also explored.
Design: A questionnaire design was used in order to access motivations, intentions and attitudes.
Method: Psychology undergraduates (N = 188) completed the Volunteer Function Inventory and the Attitudes to Older Adults Scale. Current volunteering status and career aspirations were measured, including likelihood of seeking future employment with older adults.
Results: Negative statements about older people were rejected by these students, however, positive statements were not highly endorsed. Intentions to volunteer were high (although only 26.6% were currently volunteering), with career enhancement being the most important motivational factor (x2 (5) = 609.59, p < .001). The majority aspired to work in the applied psychologies or some sort of public service role. Despite this, only 5 students (2.7%) thought themselves very likely to work with older people.
Conclusions: Despite an encouraging absence of negative attitudes to older adults amongst these students, there was an evident lack of positive attitudes and plans to work with this demographic group. Given their career aspirations and the ageing population, this may suggest a worrying naivety within the sample regarding their likelihood of working with older adults. Pedagogical input around the realities of the social world appears warranted. Longitudinal research should explore how the current measures map onto actual career trajectories.

Keywords:Psychology, Older people
Subjects:L Social studies > L510 Health & Welfare
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:24576
Deposited On:04 Oct 2016 20:17

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