The dissonance that exists in the literature, in regards to Elderspeak, has helped pave the way for the current study. The main goal of this research is to understand under what circumstances college students and older adults perceive Elderspeak to be acceptable or unacceptable and to compare the results between these two specific populations. A 37-item questionnaire was used to empirically test the validity of old age cues described in the communication accommodation theory. Consistent with this theory and previous research, it was hypothesized that Elderspeak would be rated as more appropriate in response to negative factors (e.g., physical or cognitive impairments) and that there would be a significant difference in responding between the two age groups. The results of this study supported the purposed hypothesis. First, negative factors such as physical and cognitive impairments led to higher ratings of appropriateness. In addition, college students significantly rated Elderspeak as more appropriate than did the older adults. One implication of this research is that the factors and cues that tend to evoke Elderspeak may provide more information for the education and training of those who will be caring for and interacting with older adults.


Jeffrey Buchanan

Committee Member

Leah Rogne

Committee Member

Kristie Campana

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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