Evaluative perceptions of patronizing speech addressed to elders.
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Within a speech accommodation framework, speech modifications based on stereotyped expectations of elderly persons (such as patronizing speech) are hypothesized to convey less respect. Adult volunteers (N = 186) read scripts of a conversation between a nurse caregiver, using either patronizing speech or a more neutral variant, and a 76-year-old nursing home resident, depicted either as alert or forgetful. Respondents viewed the nurse in the patronizing condition as significantly less respectful and less nurturant and the recipient as more frustrated. The patronizing nurse was also rated as significantly less competent and benevolent than her counterpart in the neutral condition. The ecological validity of the contrasts between scripts was confirmed by inferences that patronizing speech was more shrill, louder, and produced with more exaggerated intonation.
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