Age, gender and ethnicity are the basis of categorisations that are made automatically when seeing other persons. They are so "well-learned" that they are also called "primitive" or "automatic" categories. One main difference between these three categories is that while there is a vast amount of studies and research papers on racism and sexism, ageism is definitely ignored. When searching for "racism" in PsychINFO, for instance, 3.111 documents are found, for "sexism" 1.385 documents. When searching for "ageism" only 294 documents are yielded.
According to Martens et al., the root of ageism is that we distance ourselves from anything that reminds us of our mortality. So we associate elderly people with negative age stereotypes (Nelson, 2005), make sure they internalise them and by the time we are considered old, we have internalised them, too.
- - - - - - - - -
- Nelson, T. D. (2005). Ageism: Prejudice Against Our Feared Future Self. Journal of Social Issues, 61(2), 207-221.
- image of "Alfred" Alan Napier (Batman) via