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Old People Enjoy Reading Negative Stories About Young 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the stupid-kids dept.
A study by Dr. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick and co-author Matthias Hastall suggests that your grandma's self-esteem gets a boost when she hears about the stupid things young people do. "Living in a youth centered culture, they may appreciate a boost in self-esteem. That's why they prefer the negative stories about younger people, who are seen as having a higher status in our society," said Dr. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick. From the article: "All the adults in the study were shown what they were led to believe was a test version of a new online news magazine. They were also given a limited time to look over either a negative and positive version of 10 pre-selected articles. Each story was also paired with a photograph depicting someone of either the younger or the older age group. The researchers found that older people were more likely to choose to read negative articles about those younger than themselves. They also tended to show less interest in articles about older people, whether negative or positive."
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Old People Enjoy Reading Negative Stories About Young

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  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:22PM (#33438014)
    That certainly explains the widespread appeal of youtube fail videos starring spectacular parkour and skateboard wipeouts.
    • by Amouth (879122)

      i think that stems from the hope we all get when we watch that nutshot that it wasn't the first time nor will it be the last for this person and there for increases their chance of removing them self from the gene pool.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        Sure, lets take everyone out of the gene pool who takes risks, and likes to experience a little danger. Too bad our great grandfather's didn't think the same way. Think of all the lives that would have been saved from starvation, drowning, and dehydration if our forefathers had had only decided to act responsibly instead of venturing out across new lands and seas when they had no idea what was on the other side. They probably didn't even have health insurance when the did it. Yes siree, safety and respons

        • Re:nutshots rule (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Amouth (879122) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @02:48PM (#33439228)

          there is a difference between taking a risk and being stupid..

          what you list is taking a risk.. grinding a rail with a high likely-hood of falling and giving your self a nutshot and not bothering to wear a cup.. that is stupid.. i can see making the mistake once.. that is why we have 2 of most things.. but more than once is just asking for it.

          am i a fan of the always play safe? no.. do i care to wear a helmet when i drive a car.. no.. do i take the time to wear one when i race cars on a track, yes

    • You guys on your you tubes suck. Now, GET OFF MY LAWN!
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do you realise how much of an idiot you sound like when you use the word "fail" like that?

    • by tuxgeek (872962)

      It is said
      "Old age and treachery can over come youth and skill"

      As a young man I couldn't see it, but now in my mid 50's, it's quite true

  • They have a saying (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:23PM (#33438020)
    The youth is wasted on the young, but the decrepitude is aptly deployed on the geezers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Bing Tsher E (943915)

      'Young' is a label that can be affixed on all young people.

      'Geezer' on the other hand is a small subclass of older people.

      Also, I wonder if Pete Townshend still hopes he'd died before he grew old?

  • Schadenfreude (Scha¦den|freude)

    Pronunciation:/d()nfrd, dnfryd/

    noun [mass noun]

    * pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune

    +

    "Get off my lawn"

    =

    TFA??

    • Isn't it "shameful pleasure"? I doubt the older folks were feeling ashamed ;)
      • by BobMcD (601576)

        Isn't it "shameful pleasure"? I doubt the older folks were feeling ashamed ;)

        No, but they should be. Along with all those who would enjoy the first several episodes of a new season of American Idol.

  • by ShaunC (203807)

    ...to the farmers' market?

  • hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Reminds me of all the news stories who point out how today's 20- and 30-somethings are living at home with their parents, as opposed to the baby boomers who were ambitious and hardworking and started their own households in the early 20's. You can tell they were aimed at older readers because it ignores the fact how the boomers' greed destroyed the current economy, thus necessitating their children and grandchildren to stay home because they can't find jobs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)

      Baby boomers were living on welfare on communes in the 60's and 70's doing drugs and having lots of sex.

      Now that the boomers are grown up, they cut off all the benefits that their parents gave them.

      The hippies who didn't turn hard-nosed dropped out and never got back up mostly. We call them "bums" and "homeless" today.

      The 20's and 30's somethings would probably have more fun if not for lack of welfare and STD's.

      Plus, I think people who were hippies expected less out of the world. And they were turned off

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867)

      I don't know whether I should be jealous of old folks. They grew up with decent incomes, this "job security" thing I've read about, the financial ability for the average Joe to buy their very own standalone house and affordable new car that didn't suck ass, politicians that actually did the things you elected them to do, having a BSc was like having a PhD and having a PhD was like being God, and if you had unprotected sex you didn't have to worry about a slow death or horrific chronic illness.

      On the other h

      • On the other hand, no Internet and sucky electronics :-\

        Well now, that's even better. Back then they didn't know what they were missing, hence blissful ignorance. When they started seeing all these new gadgets and toys come along, it was like a new world opened up to them! And for the go-getters, they could take advantage of the new market opportunities and cash in big time! Sounds good to me.

  • by BergZ (1680594) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:32PM (#33438148)
    That would explain why we've been told, since the beginning of time, that society is collapsing and "kids have no respect these days":
    "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."
    ~ Socrates (399 BC)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:54PM (#33438480)

      "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

      ~ Socrates (399 BC)

      Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Socrates ever said that. Your quote first appeared in the book Personality and Adjustment in 1953. There is no evidence of the quote before that date. See

        http://www.bartleby.com/73/195.html [bartleby.com]
        http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=398104 [google.com]

      • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @02:01PM (#33438576)

        Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Socrates ever said that. Your quote first appeared in the book Personality and Adjustment in 1953. There is no evidence of the quote before that date. See

        If you want to get technical about it, there is no direct evidence of Socrates saying anything. Most of what we know about him is through second hand accounts.

      • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @02:21PM (#33438872) Journal

        "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

        ~ Socrates (399 BC)

        Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Socrates ever said that. Your quote first appeared in the book Personality and Adjustment in 1953. There is no evidence of the quote before that date. See

        http://www.bartleby.com/73/195.html [bartleby.com] http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=398104 [google.com]

        Although, from that second link, they make it clear that Plato claimed Socrates had made statements to that general effect, and Plato himself had directly stated something similar -- so while Socrates may not have said those specific words, it's pretty clear that both Socrates and Plato were saying things that were so similar as to be practically identical when the vagaries of translation are taken into account, as did Hesiod at roughly the same time. So the OP's point, that "the kids these days are all lousy slackers" was being made 3000 years ago, is still valid.

        • by BergZ (1680594)

          So the OP's point, that "the kids these days are all lousy slackers" was being made 3000 years ago, is still valid.

          That is exactly what I meant.
          Thank you for replying while I was busy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flynt (248848)

      Didn't their society end up collapsing? Yes, the human race went on, but with quite a gap in the ideals of that culture.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by avandesande (143899)

      Many people believe there are multi-generational economic/social trends- I think there is more to it than carmudgeony old people.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kondratiev_wave

    • wtf? I guess it was the age...

  • People like to read stories that confirm their own preconceived notions.

    "Damn kids, back in my day we didnt do that sort of thing, we did it another way, and it was better! Kids ain't got no respect these days. And see? This book proves I was right!"
    • by jfengel (409917)

      People like to read stories that confirm their own preconceived notions.

      Including, ironically, this one.

  • I'm not entirely sold on the self-esteem would explain this: the elderly could be more pessimistic, perhaps they had a more negative experience during childhood (WWII anyone?) that they can better relate to, or perhaps they're cranky that they're about to die and jealous of the kids that can actually go out and have fun.

    While I'm not entirely familiar with German culture (although i should be, half my office is German!), Europeans seem to have a much more respectful attitude towards the elderly than, say

    • by ljgshkg (1223086)
      I don't think it's a matter of self esteem, it's more like a generation difference that make those "news". And by the nature of "news usefulness", I personally see negative news are a lot more eyes catching than positive news, as those are the ones that might damage you or your family and neighbours or the society in some way. At the end, what's the point of reading positive news about "other people" anyway. It's another story if it's "positive news" about a "society/country" in general instead of certain y
    • I'm willing to go with the "just simply cranky" comment.

      The problem I run into was I was brought up to give respect to those that earned it. Just simply being old does not guarantee that you've earned my respect. That and most "elders" that I deal with on a regular basis refuse to ever admit they are wrong, and end up throwing a fit and avoiding any interacting with a given subject when proven that they are in fact wrong.

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      I'm not entirely sold on the self-esteem would explain this: the elderly could be more pessimistic, perhaps they had a more negative experience during childhood (WWII anyone?) that they can better relate to, or perhaps they're cranky that they're about to die and jealous of the kids that can actually go out and have fun.

      More likely it's biological. At younger ages we're evolved to desire risk, adventure, and a change in the status quo. Such behavior generally gives us a better chance at surviving as a species, and we select for those traits through our choice of mates. As you get older, though, you're less able to cope with change. The status-quo becomes desirable because it generally provides you with a better chance of living a long and comfortable life. Taking pleasure in the folly of youth is just an extension of

  • This just in: Young People Enjoy Reading Negative Stories About Old People.
  • And young people love reading negative stories about old people. i.e. this one. So what.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by hedwards (940851)
      The difference is that the young aren't robbing the elderly blind. The elderly had their chance to make it big, but for whatever reason now feel entitled to year after year of social security increases, even as the wages that everybody else gets are flat or even shrinking with respect to the cost of living. Perhaps if the elderly as a whole had spent a bit more providing the youth with a proper education, keeping the jobs from going overseas and expecting them to work for free, there wouldn't be so much Sc
  • Those folks that want the young to be mad at the old so that they can get enough support to push the Social Security Trust Fund onto the stock market, where it may be more easily separated from the American people?
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:54PM (#33438472)
    Each story was paired with a picture. All they've proven is that old men like looking at pictures of hot young girls!
  • "Living in a youth centered culture, they may appreciate a boost in self-esteem. That's why they prefer the negative stories about younger people

    Ummm so the lower status people living in an ageist culture enjoy something negative about the higher status people? Wow who would ever have imagined? The sad thing is that someone was actually paid to "discover" this utterly obvious bit of human nature.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Where have you been? If you think that the elderly are low status, you clearly haven't been a kid any time recently. Trust me, I still recall what it was like being a teen, no respect, few prospects for any sort of decent job, poor schools, exposure to violence, the elderly at least had their shot at avoiding that sort of ignominious fate, unless you're proposing the kids decide who their born to and state of living before being born.
      • Re:Ummm so what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:33PM (#33441726)
        Where have I been? Out in the world participating in it and watching what goes on. The article is correct - we live in a youth oriented culture and that's pretty obvious with a little bit of observation. Go to a retirement home and ask the elderly if they feel high status and valued by society... let us know what they say.
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Go to a retirement home and ask the elderly if they feel high status and valued by society... let us know what they say.

          Go to any place and ask them if they feel valued by society, and the answer will almost always be a resounding "No!".

          • Rich people think the poor are taking too much of their money via tax
          • the poor feel abandoned
          • the young feel patronised and controlled
          • the old feel ignored
          • the rich-white-males feel discriminated against by reverse discrimination
          • the "minorities" feel that old-style discr
          • "the rich-white-males feel discriminated against by reverse discrimination"

            Actually so do the poor white males and the middle class white males. And as long as we are on the subject they are men not "males". And they feel discriminated against because they are.

            But none of what you've said in any way makes my original comment incorrect. Nor does the response to my previous post.

            It is a youth oriented culture. All other things being equal older people are discriminated against in favor of youth. In jobs,

  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:57PM (#33438510)
    I would suggest that many 'old' people don't think of themselves as old. Thus they tend to see younger people as their near peers, and older folk as, well, old folk. So when we see our 'near peers' do something that we are too wise to do, we judge them as less than ourselves (and have a satisfying ego moment). And when we see 'old folk', we just seem to have less in common with them.
    • No, it really appears to be a generational gap phenomenon than anything. A certain generation thinks that the other generations are somehow inferior to them- both the older and younger ones. They see the older generations as clueless and out of touch, while the younger generations are inexperienced kids who have no clue as to how "the real world works." I've heard the same thing from many people in many different generations, so it doesn't seem to be particular to any specific generation.

      • by Dare nMc (468959)

        the other generations are somehow inferior to them

        And to me it seams obvious why, the skills we were taught as most valuable in my generation were of no value to the older generation, so I would be inferior to them, in the skills they judge others by as they were never usefull to me to master. The same is true of the next generation, what I know as a demonstration of "skills" is not likely important to either the younger, or older generations so niether will be impressed.

    • Heh, heh, heh:

      Stupid old people!

  • ...why "dead teenager flicks" are most popular with the teenage demographic. You'd think we'd see a bunch of old fogies cheering on the mask/shark/piranha/clown-in-sewer, and saying things like "Yes yes yes! DO check out that noise alone. Bwaaaa haa haa haa!" until they spit out their teeth. Somehow I just don't see Gramps renting "slumber party cheerleader holocaust", and I'm pretty sure the last time I saw "teenage hacksaw carnage VII" on the late-late show, there weren't any commercials for Fixodent

    • They are really

      "Give me a chance to be macho" and
      "Give her a chance to be squealy"

      So we can touch each other "accidentally" to get things started.

      And usually a bit of... "watch the obnoxious rich attractive bully get killed in a nasty way"

  • Like we really needed someone to tell us that old people are the worst people on this planet.
  • ...and in other obvious "news," teenage boys like to lie about largely fantasy sexual conquests! --- Oooh...wait, maybe I can get a federal grant for that study...!
  • From TFS: "They also tended to show less interest in articles about older people, whether negative or positive."

    So ... even old people don't like or care about old people?

    • by pyster (670298)
      Why the hell would I want to read about some fat old fuck watching tv on his couch with a pile of sexed up socks in the corner? I live that life, like i need to read about it.

      The worse is these ppl that go, you know 40 is the new 20... no dude. STFU. You are 40, your balls are sagging or your snatch is grey. And 60 is the new 40? Even if it was... ITS 40...

      When you read shit you want to read shit about people moving and shaking... You also dont want to be reminded that you are old and the parts that
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @02:06PM (#33438630)

    Youth-centered culture? Is that why the boomers are doing everything they can to ensure that no subsequent generation will have the same prosperity they did?

  • ...and makes it appear that they have something to do with each other.

    Negative news is more interesting than positive. People are more attractive to photos of attractive strangers than of unattractive strangers. Throw in another fact, old people are older than most people making news, and you get the results of this study. If the photo is of a well known celebrity or politician, it would still be clicked on more if he was in a scandal. And then another fact, people learn discretion as they age. Some
  • Control Group? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KnownIssues (1612961) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @02:12PM (#33438738)

    How does this compare with young people's enjoyment of negative vs. positive storeis about old people? Because unless such a study shows that young people enjoy reading positive stories about older people more than negative stories, I don't see that this study has shown anything surprising or interesting. In fact, I don't see how this wouldn't boil down to "People in Group A enjoy reading negative stories about opposite Group B". I bet Democratics enjoy reading negative stories about Republics, Atheists about Christians, Children about Parents, Men about Women, Gamers about Non-Gamers, Nerds about Non-Nerds, Straights about Gays, I could go on.

    • "I would bet"

      Yes, but would you know? That's often the point of social psych studies--you expect something and, if you're not a dimwit, you're right most of the time. But you wouldn't know you were right until you did the study. (I actually find the original result interesting in its own right, too. After thinking about it, it matches the expectations I think I would have had had I considered the elderly's views of the young. But I wouldn't have thought of that without the above story.)

    • Re:Control Group? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trintech (1137007) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @02:50PM (#33439256)
      As I pointed out in another post later on, the physorg writeup of this story was much more thorough.

      From the physorg [physorg.com] article:

      This study came about because a previous study by the same researchers, using this same data, had produced unexpected results, Knobloch-Westerwick said. The original study had hypothesized that people prefer media messages that portray people like themselves - people of the same age and the same gender, in this case. Overall, the original study found that was indeed true. However, the researchers were puzzled by the fact that older people in that first study seemed as equally interested in stories about younger people as they were in stories about older people like themselves.

      This is what makes the study interesting and why it can't be chalked up to 'I don't like people who disagree with me'. Its too bad the summery failed to mention this.

    • > How does this compare with young people's enjoyment of negative vs. positive storeis about old people?

      Please refer to TFA's postscript: the scientists indeed tried to collect such data, but the damn youths were not able to read any substancial story (positive or negative): they only read tweets.

    • Dude, non-nerds aren't real people.

    • by Jodka (520060)

      How does this compare with young people's enjoyment of negative vs. positive storeis about old people?

      Granny fell down and broke her hip. Yay!

      No, see, it does not work the other way around. Age envies youth but youth does not envy old age. Just as do the poor envy the wealthy but not the wealthy envy the poor.

  • by fuego451 (958976) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @02:16PM (#33438800) Journal
    From the blurb at the top, it sounds as though the researchers could have misinterpreted their results. I can't imagine an old fuck (love ya Georgie) like me getting an ego boost from seeing young folk fail, except for the mentally challenged or those in the beginning stages of dementia. I don't have much time left and it does my heart good to see younger men and women succeeding in every human endeavor around the world which, of course, includes my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
    • by INT_QRK (1043164)
      Concur, seriously...
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      The old often envy and resent the young, sometimes openly, sometimes unconsciously. And it's hardly surprising that people want to hear about the misfortunes of those whom they envy or resent.
      • Yeah, old people who mis-spent their own youths like to see that other generations are making the same mistakes they made themselves. Pricks.

  • Because they like to dump their problems on the young generation in the form of short-term gains.
    • by jmerlin (1010641)
      You seem to have things backwards. It was Obama that spent trillions for "short-term gains" and his and other liberals' form of "long-term gains" is .. just keep spending hundreds of billions every year, it's fine, just write it into the deficit. Do realize spending federal funds like that places ALL of the burden on the young generation. There's a reason republicans are traditionally called conservatives, even if they've grown away from that in the past few decades.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Because they like to dump their problems on the young generation in the form of short-term gains."
      If the young believe this, they should fucking VOTE.
      Inaction is consent.

    • Perhaps the "old people" see past the rhetoric about "saving the planet" or "helping the needy"
      Perhaps the "old people" see that politicians are douchebags who buy votes using other peoples money.
      Perhaps the "old people" see that politicians give YOUR money to bureaucrats and unions where 80% is wasted before making it to the "worthy" cause.
      Perhaps the "old people" see that when the money finally gets to the "worthy cause" the recipients spend it wastefully, because it is "OPM" ("Other People's Money")
  • Slashlag (Score:4, Informative)

    by Trintech (1137007) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @02:33PM (#33439064)
    Physorg.com covered this story [physorg.com] two days ago. Here is a link to the original article [osu.edu] from Ohio State University which sponsored the research.
  • Not true... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    at least, not as far as this grandma is concerned! I think it's just another attempt to force a wider gap between the generations (and judging by some of the responses here, it's not a difficult task). Oh, and just for the record, I am not a 'miserable shit' and I do NOT vote Republican. Talk about generalizations...

  • and her co-author Matthias Hastall

    Heck, I feel better already! They should do this study in South Korea!
  • Whenever you start segregating into groups, you'll find that it results in an us and them mentality. Often that will result in appreciation of anything that makes "them" look bad and "us" better.

    I'm sure that the same results would have been observed if the groups were conservatives reading negative stories about liberals or vice versa.
  • Well...That just burns my britches!...Those meddling kids....There ought to be a law....Feh!

    It's probably necessary for the elderly to read these articles and raise their blood pressure.
    After all, it's probably the the closest thing to exercise they can safely accomplish.

  • Given that newer, healthier folks are popping up daily; it concerns me that the youngsters have not learned very well from the mistakes of biblical proportions that others like myself have made. Lessons that the unlearned will learn will be repetitive, merciless, and unyielding.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Lessons that the unlearned will learn will be repetitive, merciless, and unyielding."
      Yeah, but it pisses them off when pointed out. I now tend toward the "popcorn" option. :)

  • Am I the only one who comes to think about the legendary Monty Python sketch [youtube.com]?

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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