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Volume 9 (2008/2009), ISSUE 14 (YEARLY)


The Attitude of Malaysian Students Towards the Elderly

Ponmalar ALAGAPPAR, Wendy MEI TIEN and Maya K. DAVID



Recently there seems to have been increasing reports of children abandoning their elderly parents in Malaysia. This has prompted the Parliament to make it mandatory for children to take care of their elderly parents. Many people feel, though, that the situation has been overblown and does not warrant such a law. However, in the recent years, support from the extended family structure to elderly parents has no doubt been under pressure from changing culture norms.

The authors believe that an inquiry into the attitude of students towards aged persons would help clarify perceptions concerning the elderly. The purpose of the study is to: (a) describe the general attitude of students towards the elderly (b) to determine if religious affiliation, place of residence, gender, age, ethnicity and living arrangements make a difference in their attitudes towards the elderly.

The analysis of the attitudes of students towards the elderly was conducted using the questionnaire which was adapted from Dinkel (1944), Lane (1964), Drake (1957), Wake & Sporakowski (1972), and De Vaus (1996). The questionnaire was administrated to 306 students who are presently studying in the Klang Valley. The inventory has 61 questions that takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes to complete. The data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).


Elderly - Families - Generations - Social Cohesion


Ponmalar N. Alagappar obtained a degree (Hons) in Psychology and minored in Anthropology and Sociology from Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia, in 1992 and Master in Business Administration from University Putra, Malaysia in 1999. She is presently working as a lecturer in University of Malaya, and is pursuing her Ph.D. in the area of organizational behaviour.

Wendy Yee Mei Tien is a lecturer in the Section for Co-Curricular, External Faculty Elective and TITAS (SKET), University of Malaya. She has degrees in youth development studies, specializing in inter-ethnic relations.  She has more than eight years of working experience with various institutions of higher education. 

Maya Khemlani David is a Professor at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya, Malaysia. She has a special interest in the role of discourse and language in establishing and maintaining national unity in a multiethnic society. Dr. David's recent publications include Language and the Power of the Media (2006) and Language Choices and Discourse of Malaysian Families: Case Studies of Families in Kuala Lumpur (2006).  


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