Ageism: the importance of the linguistic concept for the construction of the experience

Sarit Okun, Liat Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study investigated if people are acquainted with the term ‘ageism’, and to what extent acquaintance with this term corresponds with reports of discrimination, due to age. The study included an online survey, answered by 1,025 Israeli respondents. The questionnaire began by asking the respondents to define ‘What is ageism?’ (gilanut in Hebrew) and then to mark ‘If and what types of discrimination they experienced in the last year’. Subsequently, we defined and demonstrated the term ageism and asked participants to share experiences of this phenomenon; 457 (45%) participants were not familiar with the term. In the group that was unfamiliar with the term, only 46 (10%) reported that they had such experiences. In the group that was acquainted with the term, 208 (30%) reported that they had experienced ageism. In contrast, once the term, ageism, was defined and demonstrated in the survey, 638 (62%) respondents shared experiences of ageism in their lives. Of those who shared their experiences of ageism, 202 (31%) were initially unfamiliar with the term. The study’s results show that there is an association between the linguistic representation of the phenomenon of ageism and reports of ageism. In the wider sense, the study shows that language and words have the power to help people understand and interpret social and human experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1354-1368
Number of pages15
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - 4 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2022.


  • ageism
  • discrimination
  • language
  • terminology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ageism: the importance of the linguistic concept for the construction of the experience'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this