Age as a Category to Identify People
The aim of this paper is to analyze the importance of age in identifying and classifying people, in comparison to other categories like gender, psychological features and social characteristics. The research conducted for these ends had two stages. In the first stage, participants (104 students of an Argentine university) had to briefly describe the content of six photos. Four of said photos displayed individuals of different ages (a little girl, a young boy, an adult man and an old woman), and two of them displayed a situation where people were gathered in a group (a big and a small group of people of different ages and gender). The second stage consisted in classifying a set of eight pictures of individuals of different age, gender, expressive psychological traits (smiling or not-smiling) and social characteristics (clothing and social appearance) into two groups, according to a personal criterion. Up to four classifications were permitted, regardless of the amount of people included in each group. The order of the classifying criterion played an essential role in the analysis. Half of the participants (52) had to work with a photo set including four photos of young people and four photos of adults, while the other half (52 students) had to work with a photo set including four photos of young people and four photos of old people. Naturally, the age of people varied in each set, but the other categories considered (gender, psychological traits and social characteristics) were the same in both sets. Results showed that age was an important reference to categorize and classify people, at least for young people, and especially when the chronological distance was greater. Gender and, to a lesser degree, sociological and psychological features were also important.