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Age differences in the perception of new co-worker benevolence

Christopher Jay Roussin (Management & Entrepreneurship Department, Suffolk University, Boston, MA, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




Large numbers of older workers are remaining in the global workforce, raising questions concerning age-related differences in perception and behavior. The purpose of this paper is to examine the interplay between employee age, gender and ethnicity on benevolence perceptions of new co-workers.


Data were obtained through scenario methods from a sample of 215 full-time, team-based employees across nine North American business organizations. Participants evaluated three provocative scenarios depicting initial meetings with new colleagues.


Workers of greater age perceived significantly less benevolence in all three scenarios. In evaluating a new boss, women perceived lower benevolence than men, and gender moderated the relationship between age and perceived benevolence, where aging was associated with significantly lower levels of perceived benevolence only among men.

Research limitations/implications

Deeper understandings are needed concerning the behavioral and cognitive mechanisms related to age and workplace perceptions.

Practical implications

Older employees, guided by experience, are skeptical of the intentions of a wide variety of newly acquainted colleagues, signaling organizational leaders to customize behaviors and develop programs to encourage awareness and positive relationships across age- and gender-diverse employee groups.


This research uniquely explores age influences, and interactions with gender and ethnicity, on benevolence perceptions of diverse new coworkers. The results are robust, considering that age was related to lower benevolence perception across three disparate scenario interpretations.



Roussin, C.J. (2015), "Age differences in the perception of new co-worker benevolence", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 71-86.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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