"Let the strongest survive": Ageism and social Darwinism as barriers to supporting policies to benefit older individuals

KANIK B., Ulug O. M., Solak N., Chayinska M.

JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ISSUES, vol.78, no.4, pp.790-814, 2022 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 78 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/josi.12553
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, Abstracts in Social Gerontology, American History and Life, Child Development & Adolescent Studies, Communication & Mass Media Index, Communication Abstracts, Criminal Justice Abstracts, EBSCO Education Source, Education Abstracts, Gender Studies Database, Geobase, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Psycinfo, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Violence & Abuse Abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.790-814
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: No


The World Health Organization (WHO) identified +65 individuals as one of the most vulnerable populations in the current pandemic. Previous research has shown a robust association between ageism and derogatory attitudes and behaviors targeting older people. We proposed that reluctance of people under age 65 to endorse the policies that benefit older adults can be further explained by their adherence to social Darwinism. We tested a mediation model to examine whether social Darwinism would predict support for policies directly and indirectly through the endorsement of ageist attitudes. We conducted two correlational studies in Turkey (Study 1; N = 1261) and the United States (Study 2; N = 210). In Study 1, we collected data through social media and messaging platforms in April 2020. In Study 2, participants were recruited via Prolific Academic in May 2020. In both studies, we found that adherence to social Darwinist beliefs negatively predicted support for policies. We also found that this association was positively mediated by ageist attitudes. Overall, our research contributes to the scholarly effort to identify the social-psychological barriers to public support for legal initiatives aimed to secure a healthy and productive future for older people.