Two hypotheses about the relation between age and susceptibility to attitude change were tested. The impressionable years hypothesis proposes that individuals are highly susceptible to attitude change during late adolescence and early adulthood and that susceptibility drops precipitously immediately thereafter and remains low throughout the rest of the life cycle. The increasing persistence hypothesis proposes that people become gradually more resistant to change throughout their lives. Structural equation models were applied to data from the 1956-1960, 1972-1976. and 1980 National Election Panel Studies in order to estimate the stability of political attitudes and unreliability in measures of them. The results support the impressionable years hypothesis and disconfirm the increasing persistence hypothesis. A decrease in the over-time consistency of attitude reports among 66- to 83-year-olds was found to be due to increased random measurement error in their reports, not to increased attitude change.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science