Development and Validation of the Workplace Age Discrimination Scale

Lisa A. Marchiondo, Ernest Gonzales, Shan Ran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Workplace age discrimination research is proliferating, but researchers lack a valid measure with which to capture targets’ discriminatory experiences. We developed a measure of perceived workplace age discrimination that assesses overt and covert forms of discrimination and then compared older, middle-aged, and younger workers’ experiences. Design/Methodology: In Study 1, we developed the Workplace Age Discrimination Scale (WADS) based on older workers’ experiences using a deductive approach, a qualitative study, and two quantitative surveys. In Study 2, we validated the measure among young employees using a qualitative and two quantitative surveys. In Study 3, we tested the WADS among middle-aged workers and tested models of invariance between age groups. Findings: Participants frequently endorsed covert discriminatory experiences, which the WADS reflects. The WADS contains convergent and discriminant validity, high reliability, and a unidimensional structure across age groups. It demonstrates criterion-related validity among older and younger workers but not middle-aged workers, given their low experiences of age discrimination. Age discrimination frequency follows a U-shaped pattern across age groups. Implications: Researchers can use the WADS to identify long-term outcomes of age discrimination and to further compare workers’ discriminatory experiences. Practitioners and policymakers can use the measure to develop interventions to ameliorate workplace age discrimination and inform policymaking. Originality/Value: The WADS is the first validated measure of targets’ perspectives of workplace age discrimination. Our results challenge assumptions that only older workers experience age discrimination (younger workers’ means were highest) and that age discrimination is usually overt in nature (it is often covert).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-513
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Age discrimination
  • Ageism
  • Measurement
  • Middle-aged workers
  • Modern discrimination
  • Older workers
  • Young workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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