The study addresses the issue whether human resource specialists hold stereotypes about elderly employees which automatically influence their perception and assessment of this age group. We also investigated the relationship between qualities stemming from age and expectations in the labour market. The author assumes that human resource specialists' interpretation of ambiguous information about the workforce is influenced by the stereotypes concerning the working methods associated with different age groups. As a result, the individual will be assessed in a more positive or negative manner in comparison to the assessment of either older/younger candidates or individuals with different professional backgrounds. The results suggest that the majority of human resource specialists (especially younger and less experienced professionals) hold stereotypes which produce a tendency to assess younger workforce more favorably and undervalue elderly personnel. We also studied the issue whether and to what extent the opinions concerning the elderly are based on reality. The adverse effect of ageing on certain (especially cognitive) abilities have been verified, and the presence of these abilities have presumably been considered as critically important since the change of regime: we studied whether the emphasis placed on these abilities by human resource specialists during the selection process is matched by the level of importance attached to them. The results suggest that approximately only about one quarter of the most highly valued competences were ones which might deteriorate with age to some extent; qualities which tend to favor the elderly were more often mentioned as highly significant ones.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.