Examining the intersections of age, race, and mental health through linguistic analysis
The purpose of the current study was to examine patterns in the language used to describe individuals at different stages of the lifespan, and to determine through a framework of intersectionality, whether language use directed toward others differs in relation to perceived identity and social location. Researchers also sought to examine the ways in which study participants’ own intersecting identities influence their use of language. A pilot study was conducted to obtain descriptive words associated with general and specific concepts of being elderly, mental illness, and race/ethnicity. Custom dictionaries were created and used for linguistic analysis of archival data from a previous study examining differences in language use to describe images of women at different life stages (Rook-Phenis & Scott, 2019). A theme analysis of the previous archival data was also undertaken. Results demonstrated differences in themes and stereotypical language between descriptions of the younger versus older woman based on age and other perceived intersectional identities. The analysis also found that participants’ own unique intersecting identities influenced their use of stereotypical language.