Queen's Policy Engagement

Imagining their Future Selves

Drs Katrina Lloyd, Paula Devine and Gemma Carney look at children’s attitudes to older people and their expectations of life at age 70.

Imagining their Future Selves

Our recent article ‘Imagining their Future Selves: Children’s Attitudes to Older People and their Expectations of Life at Age 70’ published in the journal Children & Society provided an insight into children’s thoughts about older people, and how they imagine their own lives will be when they are older.

So why is this important? Well, we know that the world’s population is ageing.  We also know that there has been scare-mongering about the ‘crisis’ this will cause, especially for the young. Added to this, the language used to describe older people almost always has negative connotations; frail, past it, over-the-hill, to name but a few – which can contribute to a culture of ageism. But Palmore (2015) warns us that countering ageism will be challenging because it is so much a part of our culture that most people are not even aware of it. Importantly, if children take on board the ageist stereotypes they see around them, will these attitudes towards older people influence their future expectations of life as an older person?

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Katrina Lloyd is a lecturer in Education at Queen’s University Belfast. She is Director of the Kids’ Life and Times survey which is a constituent part of ARK, a joint initiative between Queen’s University and Ulster University.

Paula Devine is Director of the Northern Ireland Life and Times survey, and co-Director of ARK.

Gemma Carney is a social gerontologist and lecturer in social policy at Queen’s University Belfast. She is a member of the ARK research team where she works on public engagement and the ARK ageing programme.


The featured image has been used courtesy Getty Images and of a Creative Commons license. 

Drs Katrina Lloyd, Paula Devine and Gemma Carney
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This article was written by Drs Katrina Lloyd, Paula Devine and Gemma M. Carney. The authors are members of the ARK team, and are based in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen's University Belfast.

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