Spot the ageist stereotype

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Just to imagine that you are confronted with these positive and negatives views of people in the workplace. I invite you to go through this list and answer this question, “which relate to younger people which relate to older people”?

Here we go:

  • Energetic
  • Committed
  • Tech savvy
  • Reliable
  • Hard working
  • Ambitious
  • Able to deal with change
  • Experienced
  • Narcissistic
  • Socially skilled
  • Lazy
  • Resistant to change
  • Disloyal
  • Not flexible
  • Easily distracted
  • Unmotivated
  • Incompetent
  • Unproductive
  • Entitled

In a recent World Health Organization report, they cite detailed research that shows how these different stereotypes are presented across countries and at large.

Here is a quiz for you: what is your scores for spotting the stereotype. If you correctly identify the stereotype as applying to younger or older people then you get 2 points. If the stereotype is associated with both categories, you get 1 point. If you correctly identify that the stereotype is associated with both categories you get 3 points. Maximum score is 39 points.

The answers are at the bottom of this article.

Now reflect on the extent to which you, personally, have bought into those stereotypes. Consider how much you have experienced the positive or negative impacts of those stereotypes upon you. Examine what policies, attitudes or communications language in organizations you’ve engaged reflect these stereotypes.

As you notice that stereotypes, mindsets, are present at the institutional, individual and in fact self-reflective levels you can start to see how pervasive ageism is across the variety of different cultural contexts, we can observe and experience.


Ageism: it’s here, it’s happening now. I believe ageism is institutionalised in companies, governments and the third sector, culturally reinforced by media, literature and social discourse and embedded in societal norms.

Are you happy for this to continue as you get older and your children or grandchildren seek to make their way in the world?

Quiz Answers:

  • Energetic – Younger
  • Committed – Older
  • Tech savvy – Younger
  • Reliable – Older
  • Hard working – Younger and Older
  • Ambitious – Younger
  • Able to deal with change – Older
  • Experienced – Older
  • Narcissistic – Younger
  • Socially skilled – Older
  • Lazy – Younger
  • Resistant to change – Older
  • Disloyal – Younger
  • Not flexible – Older
  • Easily distracted – Younger
  • Unmotivated – Younger
  • Incompetent – Older
  • Unproductive – Older
  • Entitled – Younger


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.