Over the Thrill Or Raging Against Aging: Persuasive Appeals in Advertising Messages Targeted to the Baby-Boom Generation

Date of Graduation

Summer 1992


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Richard Stovall


This thesis explores the attitudes of the baby-boom generation, those born between the years of 1946 and 1964, regarding age and aging. Prior research has focused on the mature consumer--those 55-plus--and has found significant differences between the age one "feels" (cognitive age) and his or her age in number of years (chronological age), suggesting as much as a 10-15 year gap. The purpose of this study was to assess the cognitive ages of the baby-boomers, to assess their underlying attitudes, and to discover the orientation of those attitudes, whether traditional, as held by the generation before them, or unique to their particular cohort. The researcher felt that targeting attitudes associated with cognitive age, rather than chronological age, would result in a more accurate picture of the baby-boomers. Barak's Cognitive Age Scale was used to assess cognitive age, and focus group interviews were conducted to explore more deeply the attitudes held by baby-boomers. In general, the results of this study revealed little difference between boomers' cognitive ages and their chronological ages, and did not find age to be a relevant indicator of any specific attitude. Rather, the baby-boom generation was found to be a diverse, heterogeneous mix of both self- and traditionally-oriented individuals. Implications for persuaders suggest identifying the specific factors that contribute to each of these orientations and targeting messages based on the attitudes found within these sub-segments of the boomer population.

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© Sue Ellen Templeman