2011. Vol.2, No.7, 669-673
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/psych.2011.27102
Attitudes towards Young People in Bulgaria
Department of Psychology, South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.
Received August 22nd, 2011; revised September 23rd, 2011; accepted October 11th, 2011.
This paper presents a study of the stereotypes of and attitudes towards young people in Bulgaria. The method
was developed on the basis of Fishbein’s and Ajzen theory and using several coding matrices for content analy-
sis by a group of psychologists during the summer school “Social cognition” held in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria in
July 2010. The social involvement of young people, life satisfaction and family issues were studied.
Keywords: Attitudes, Youth, Life Satisfaction, Social Involvement
Attitudes are usually conceived as evaluative appraisals
(Leone, Perugini, & Ercolani, 1999), a person’s favourable or
unfavourable evaluation of a social object (Fishbein & Ajzen,
1975; Meshel & McGlynn, 2004). The attitudes toward youth
include the image of a young person—student, the intentions to
interact with a young person—student, the beliefs that young
people—students can take part in academic and non-academic
classes (Siperstein et al., 2007).
According to the tripartite or hierarchical model of attitudes
described by McGuire (1986), attitudes have cognitive, affect-
tive, and behavioural response tendencies. Cognitive compo-
nents of the attitudes are beliefs that can be defined as a per-
son’s knowledge or information about an attitude object
(Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). A person’s attitude is related to a set
of intentions to behave certain ways toward an attitude object
(Meshel & McGlynn, 2004).
The Fishbein-Ajzen model contains two composite variables
which determine how an individual intends to behave. One
variable, the attitude, consists of the beliefs about and evalua-
tions of the consequences of a specific form of behaviour. The
other variable is a summary measure of the norms attributed to
relevant others (e.g. parents, friends) and the extent to which
someone tends to conform to these expectations (Knibbe,
Oostveen, & Van De Goor, 1991).
As a part of the expectancy-value approach, the direct pre-
dictor of behaviour is intention that is function of attitude to-
ward the act (a personal evaluative response), and subjective
norms (the social information available and the perceived social
pressure to behave). The Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour
(TPB) claims that perceived behavioural control (defined as the
perception of how difficult or easy an action is to perform for a
given subject) interacts with attitudes and subjective norms in
order to create intention to behave. The greater is the perceived
behavioural control, the more positive is the behavioural inten-
tion and the more likely is the performance of behaviour. The
Bagozzi’s (1992) Theory of Self-regulation (TSR) claims that
desire interacts with attitudes and subjective norms and leads to
intention (in Leone, Perugini, & Ercolani, 1999).
Among young men in The Netherlands frequency of past
behaviour contributed more to the present habits and behaviour
than the beliefs, norms and perceived skills that the Fishbein-
Ajzen model assumed (Knibbe, Oostveen, & Van De Goor,
Findings about Attitudes towards Young People
The eight years old children in USA held primarily negative
attitudes toward older persons. Three quarters of the younger
sample preferred to be with younger people. Older persons had
positive attitudes toward younger persons. Older persons’ atti-
tudes toward young people (age 11 - 13) became significantly
more positive after a long contact with them (for several weeks
in the process of cross-age education) (Meshel & McGlynn,
Normative youth’s attitudes toward integrating detached
youth within normative youth settings in USA were positive
(Romi, 1999). Children and youth in USA hold negative atti-
tudes toward their peers with intellectual disabilities (Siperstein
et al., 2007).
Those who know most of the young people in their area in
Scotland were much more likely than those who know none to
have positive attitudes towards young people. Those adults who
have least contact with young people were more likely to have
negative views of the young person (Anderson, Bromley, &
Discussion with peers, direct contact with a non-stereotypic
target, and increasing knowledge of target group persons were
effective in producing positive attitude change toward target
group with the direct contact approach proving to be the most
effective (Meshel & McGlynn, 2004).
The attitudes could be measured by means of questionnaires,
group interviews (Knibbe, Oostveen, & Van De Goor, 1991),
semantic-differential 7-point scales defined as positive/negative
(Leone, Perugini, & Ercolani, 1999; Meshel & McGlynn, 2004),
list of the most important persons for the subject and indicating
how much each of them would approve or disapprove some
kind of behaviour, indicating on a 7-point scale how easy or
difficult it is for the subject to behave in a defined way, indi-
cating on a 7-point scale own desire to behave in a defined way,
indicating on a 7-point scale the likelihood to behave in a de-
fined way, indicating on a 7-point scale the frequency of past
behaviour (Leone, Perugini, & Ercolani, 1999), a short paper
describing the target group, interviews, photographs of unfa-
miliar members of the target group (Meshel & McGlynn, 2004),
a participant information sheet, a written vignette describing the
target group, an attitude and beliefs rating scale containing
about 40 statements presented as 4-point Likert-scale items
from 1 strongly agree to 4 strongly disagree (Stinnett, Cruce, &
An attitude toward a person or object is appropriately meas-
ured by having an individual place an object on a bipolar affect-
tive or evaluative dimension (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Meshel
& McGlynn, 2004).
An attitude scale based on Fishbein and Ajzen model was
developed (Stoyanova et al., 2010) using stereotypes to define
young people across cultures mainly based on Bolzan and col-
leagues’ research findings (Bolzan, 2003). The attitude scale
was designed to assess both young and elderly people’s atti-
tudes toward young people (13 - 25 years old). It consists of 18
stereotypes about young people which are common in the pre-
sent literature. The sample item for a positive stereotype is
“hard-working” and the sample item for a negative stereotype is
“selfish”. Respondents are required to indicate how positive or
negative is each item to them on a 7 point scale (–3 = extremely
negative; +3 = extremely positive). Scoring of the scale is based
on the formula developed by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) which
is A = ∑ (b*e). In this formula, A stands for the attitude, ∑ is
sum, b is how typical is the belief, * is multiply and e stands for
how positive or negative is the quality (Fishbein, 1967: p. 394).
Two questions about life satisfaction were included on the
basis of the suggestive research evidence (Meshel & McGlynn,
2004) and expert agreement (Stoyanova et al., 2010) about the
link between life satisfaction and attitudes toward young people.
Those questions are rated on a seven point semantic differential
scale where 1 means unsatisfied and 7 means satisfied with the
life. Furthermore questions about demographic information
were included in the end of the questionnaire (Stoyanova et al.,
A content analysis matrix was prepared on the basis of the
content analysis matrices and results from previous studies
(Anglin et al., 2000; Lampman et al., 2002; Ward, 2005; Bol-
zan, 2003) by a group of 7 psychologists during the European
Summer School “Social Cognition” held in Blagoevgrad, Bul-
garia in July 2010, organized by the European Federation of
Psychology Students’ Associations, and the Association of
Young Psychologists In Bulgaria “4th April” in the campus of
South-West University “Neofit Rilski” (Stoyanova et al., 2010).
This content analysis matrix was created to study media repre-
sentations of the age group from 13 to 25 years old. A content
analysis of September 2010 issues of two print Bulgarian daily
newspapers (“Sega” and “Telegraph”) was carried out. A total
of 159 articles dedicated to young people (36 in “Sega” and 123
in “Telegraph”) were coded according to key topics like the
focus of the article (22 foci were enumerated and among them
were family issues), and the attitude towards young people
expressed by the source of the material cited and the news item.
1) Young people will have more positive attitudes towards
young people; teenagers will have a more positive attitude to-
wards young people than people older than 20; elderly people
will have negative attitudes about young people (because of the
in-group favouritism—Turner, 1990; and because the advance
in age is related to increase in prejudices—Wagner & Zick,
2) Other socio-demographic groups (educational, gender,
with different family and social status) will differ in their atti-
tudes towards young people.
3) People who feel satisfied from their life are more likely to
have positive attitude towards young people (because they do
not consider the attitude of their environment as hostile, and
they feel community with other people—Adler, 1920: p. 103).
4) The image of young people reflected by the media is pre-
dominantly a positive one.
This research was designed as a cross-sectional survey. The
ideal sample size for the preliminary studies is recommended as
100 (Prince, Stewart, Ford, & Hotopf, 2003).
The research was carried out from 1 September 2010 to 23
November 2010. The participants were approached personally.
They were given information sheets and consent forms to help
them with making informed decisions about their participation
in the study. Then the consenting participants were adminis-
tered the attitude scale.
114 subjects in Bulgaria from 18 to 62 years old were studied.
Their mean age was 22 years old (SD = 9 years). 88 respon-
dents (80.7%) were from 18 to 20 years old. 8 respondents were
from 21 to 30 years old. 6 respondents were from 31 to 40 years
old. 5 respondents were from 41 to 50 years old. 5 respondents
were from 51 to 60 years old. 2 respondents were from 61 to 65
88 were women (78%) and 26 were men (22%). 17 were
married (14.9%). 97 were single (85.1%). 98 did not have any
children (86%). 8 had 1 child (7%) and 8 had 2 children (7%).
86 graduated from high school (75.4%). 13 graduated from
lyceum (11.4%). 2 graduated from technical school (1.8%). 11
graduated from university (9.6%). 2 hold a PhD degree (1.8%).
91 were students (79.8%) in speech pathology 2nd year,
psychology 1st year, public administration 1st year. 20 were
workers (17.5%)—psychologists, accountants, administrators,
barwomen, dispatchers, electricians, managers, social workers,
teachers, and waitresses. 2 were pensioners (1.8%). 1 was un-
The participants in Bulgaria estimated as positive the quail-
ties like capable (by 96.6%1; mean = 2.6; SD = .773); intelli-
gent (by 93.9%; mean = 2.48; SD = .885); hard-working (by
96.5%; mean = 2.45; SD = .883); self-assured (by 97.4%; mean
= 2.39; SD = .805); fun loving (by 97.3%; mean = 2.21; SD
= .749); optimistic (by 93.9%; mean = 2.11; SD = 1.067); en-
thusiastic (by 93.7%; mean = 1.85; SD = 1.076); easygoing (by
86.7%; mean = 1.83; SD = 1.195); involved in social issues (by
85.9%; mean = 1.7; SD = 1.197); risk-taking (by 81.5%; mean
= 1.28; SD = .982). The most positively estimated qualities
were inherent. Less positively estimated qualities were these
ones that a person should put some efforts to achieve them.
The participants in Bulgaria estimated as negative the quail-
ties and the behaviours such as taking drugs (by 97.4%2; mean
= –2.84; SD = .759); excessive drinking (by 92.9%; mean =
–2.5; SD = 1.135); smoking (by 87.7%; mean = –2.1; SD =
1This percentage is the sum of the percentages of all positive categories o
2This percentage is the sum of the percentages of all negative categories o
S. STOYANOVA 671
1.324); lonely (by 83.3%; mean = –1.9; SD = 1.296); selfish
(by 62.8%; mean = –1.08; SD = 1.648); misunderstood (by
45.1%; mean = – .88; SD = 1.174); frightened (by 68.5%; mean
= –.86; SD = 1.6); carefree (by 55.3%; mean= –.57; SD =
1.574). Lonely, selfish and frightened are some negative traits
that are parts of the anti-social attitude and feeling of inferiority
(Adler, 1920: pp. 75-76).
Surprisingly, risk—taking was evaluated as a positive quality,
and carefree—as a negative one.
There were no significant differences in respondents’ opin-
ions (p > .05) how typical were for young people from 13 to 19
and from 20 to 25 the qualities and behaviours such as exces-
sive drinking, frightened, optimistic, risk-taking and lonely. For
all other characteristics, the respondents differed significantly
in their attribution to young people from 13 to 19 and from 20
to 25 (p < .05).
The respondents in Bulgaria estimated as typical for 13 to 19
year-old the qualities and the behaviours like fun loving (by
95.5%; mean = 2.6; SD = .776); smoking (by 87.2%; mean =
1.88; SD = 1.601); carefree (by 86.8%; mean = 1.88; SD =
1.351); excessive drinking (by 84%; mean = 1.42; SD = 1.552);
optimistic (by 81.2%; mean = 1.42; SD = 1.522); risk-taking
(by 77.3%; mean = 1.33; SD = 1.472); selfish (by 73.2%; mean
= 1.23; SD = 1.464); self-assured (by 72.1%; mean = 1.08; SD
= 1.496); misunderstood (by 61.6%; mean = 1.06; SD = 1.384);
taking drugs (by 68.7%; mean = .83; SD = 1.482); easygoing
(by 67.3%; mean = .83; SD = 1.477); intelligent (by 67%; mean
= .75; SD = 1.424); capable (by 64.9%; mean = .72; SD =
1.329); enthusiastic (by 65.7%; mean = .7; SD = 1.61); fright-
ened (by 47.3%; mean = .23; SD = 1.512).
The participants in Bulgaria estimated as non-typical for 13
to 19 year-old the qualities and the behaviours such as involved
in social issues (by 51.8%; mean = –.53; SD = 1.734); hard-
working (by 53.2%; mean = –.52; SD = 1.67); lonely (by 39.3%;
mean = –.25; SD = 1.647).
The respondents in Bulgaria estimated as typical for 20 to 25
year-old the qualities and the behaviours like fun loving (by
93.8%; mean = 2.39; SD = .953); capable (by 87.4%; mean =
1.7; SD = 1.023); smoking (by 83.6%; mean = 1.66; SD =
1.593); self-assured (by 64.5%; mean = 1.66; SD = 1.136);
risk-taking (by 87.5%; mean = 1.45; SD = 1.038); intelligent
(by 82%; mean = 1.42; SD = 1.014); easygoing (by 78.9%;
mean = 1.3; SD = 1.159); enthusiastic (by 83.2%; mean = 1.21;
SD = 1.235); excessive drinking (by 80.3%; mean = 1.16; SD =
1.529); hard-working (by 78.3%; mean = 1.15; SD = 1.447);
optimistic (by 78.4%; mean = 1.13; SD = 1.415); involved in
social issues (by 67.9%; mean = .8; SD = 1.576); selfish (by
63.4%; mean = .72; SD = 1.466); taking drugs (by 50%; mean
= .33; SD = 1.521); carefree (by 53.2%; mean = .2; SD = 1.654);
misunderstood (by 36%; mean = .15; SD = 1.185); frightened
(by 46.4%; mean = .13; SD = 1.271).
The participants in Bulgaria estimated as non-typical for 20
to 25 year-old the qualities such as lonely (by 38.7%; mean =
–.32; SD = 1.596).
The participants had positive attitudes towards young people
from 13 to 19 years old (by 59.6%; mean = 5.59; SD = 22.297)
and towards young people from 20 to 25 years old (by 88.6%;
mean = 24.89; SD = 21.897). Their attitude towards young
people from 13 to 19 years old was significantly more positive
than their attitude towards young people from 20 to 25 years
old (t|113| = 8.847; p = .0001). The positive attitude towards
13-19 year-old was related to a positive attitude towards 20 - 25
year-old (r = .445; p = .0001).
The older respondents (more than 20 years old; mean = 16.48;
SD = 25.085) had a more positive attitude towards young peo-
ple from 13 to 19 years old than the younger respondents (up to
20 years old; mean = 3.09; SD = 21.241) did (t|107| = 2.504; p
= .014). The older respondents (more than 20 years old; mean =
24; SD = 26.06) and the younger respondents (up to 20 years
old; mean = 25.86; SD = 21.174) did not differ significantly in
their attitudes towards young people from 20 to 25 (t|107|
= .346; p = .73).
The increase of the participants’ age was related to a more
positive attitude towards 13 - 19 year-old (stepwise regression;
F = 8.361; p = .005; R = .268; R2 = .072; t = 2.892; p = .005; b
= .697), but life satisfaction now (t = .899; p = .37) and ex-
pected life satisfaction in the future (t = 1.379; p = .171) were
The most part of the respondents were satisfied with life (by
61.8%; mean = 4.89; SD = 1.39) and they expected to be sig-
nificantly more satisfied with life in the future (by 91.8%; mean
= 6.02; SD = 1.133; t|109| = 9.691; p = .0001). Their attitude
towards life was mainly optimistic. Life satisfaction now was
related to life satisfaction in the future (r = .549; p = .0001) and
to a positive attitude toward 20 - 25 year-old (r = .222; p = .02).
The increase of the participants’ life satisfaction in the pre-
sent time was related to a more positive attitude towards 20 - 25
year-old (stepwise regression; F = 5.446; p = .021; R = .219;
R2 = .048; t = 2.334; p = .021; b = 3.514), but expected life
satisfaction in the future (t = .745; p = .458) and age (t = –.153;
p = .879) were not.
The older respondents (more than 20 years old; mean = 5.05;
SD = 1.05) and the younger respondents (up to 20 years old;
mean = 4.98; SD = 1.38) did not differ significantly in their life
satisfaction now (t|103| = .223; p = .824). The older respon-
dents (more than 20 years old; mean = 5.9; SD = 1.41) and the
younger respondents (up to 20 years old; mean = 6.06; SD =
1.084) did not differ significantly in their life satisfaction in the
future (t|103| = .555; p = .58).
The education influenced on the attitude towards 13 - 19
year-old (F|4,109| = 2.833; p = .028) and on the attitude to-
wards 20 - 25 year-old (F|4,109| = 3.701; p = .007). The partici-
pants graduated from a lyceum had a more positive attitude
towards 13 - 19 year-old (Mean lyceum = 22.15; SD lyceum =
28.2; Mean high school = 2; SD high school = 21.2; pLSD
= .002) and a more positive attitude towards 20 - 25 year-old
(Mean lyceum = 42.38; SD lyceum =22.1; Mean high school =
24.29; SD high school = 21.1; pLSD = .004) than the partici-
pants graduated from a high school did. The participants gradu-
ated from a lyceum had a more positive attitude towards 20 - 25
year-old than the participants graduated from a university did
(Mean university = 16.18; SD university = 16.8; pLSD = .003).
The respondents graduated from a technical school and these
ones holding a PhD degree were too small in number.
There were not any significant differences between the stud-
ied students and workers in their attitude towards 13 - 19
year-old (F|3,110| = 1.677; p = .176), in their attitude towards
20 - 25 year-old (F|3,110| = 2.595; p = .056). The studied pen-
sioners and unemployed people were too small in number.
There were not any significant differences between the stud-
ied men and women in their attitude towards 13 - 19 year-old
(F|1,111| = 2.348; p = .128), in their attitude towards 20 - 25
year-old (F|1,111| = .349; p = .556).
There were not any significant differences between the mar-
ried and single respondents in their attitude towards 13 - 19
year-old (F|1,112| = 1.511; p = .222), in their attitude towards
20 - 25 year-old (F|1,112| = 3.785; p = .054).
There were not any significant differences between the re-
spondents who did not have any children, the participants having
1 child, and the subjects with 2 children in their attitude to-
wards 13 - 19 year-old (F|2,111| = 1.455; p = .238), in their atti-
tude towards 20 - 25 year-old (F|2,111| = 2.448; p = .091).
Media content analysis revealed that the quoted sources and
news items expressed mainly positive attitudes towards young
people (only positive attitude in 44 news items –27.7%; more
positive than negative attitude in 52 news items –32.7%) than
negative attitudes (only negative attitudes in 12 news items
–7.6%; more negative than positive attitude in 26 news items
–16.4%) and neutral attitudes (in 25 news items –15.7%). 72
news items (45.3%) expressed adults’ concern for young peo-
The media described family issues in 46 news items in Sep-
tember 2010. The media positive attitudes towards young peo-
ple were related to family issues in 30 news items out of 46
A young person’s voice was quoted in 31 news items. In 16
news items out of them (51.6%), a young person expressed
positive attitudes towards young people. These positive atti-
tudes towards young people were related to family issues, be-
cause a young person’s voice was quoted in 15 news items
dealing with family issues and in 11 news items out of them
(73.3%), a young person expressed his/her positive attitudes
towards young people.
An example for a positive attitude towards young people re-
lated to family issues is: A businessman is plunged in loans in
order to feed orphans (Telegraph, 15.09.2010).
Some examples for a negative attitude towards young people
related to family issues are: a 21 year-old man from Yambol
has transformed his flat into a home laboratory for production
of meta-amphetamines (Telegraph, 17.09.2010). A grand-
mother and her grand-child cultivate cannabis (Telegraph,
Regarding the first hypothesis, the increase of the age was
related to a more positive attitude towards younger people from
13 to 19. The older respondents (more than 20 years old) had a
more positive attitude towards young people from 13 to 19
years old than the younger respondents (up to 20 years old) did.
Bulgaria is moving towards individualism, but the collectivistic
values are strengthened with the increase of age and the strong-
est individualism is in the age group of 15 - 18 years old (Pas-
palanova, 1999: p. 138) where—the basic differentiation is not
we-the others, but I versus the others (Hofstede, 2001; Hofstede,
Pedersen, & Hofstede, 2003: p. 110) and individualistic values
of young people could explain this result (Hofstede, 2001;
Hofstede, Pedersen, & Hofstede, 2003: p. 110).
The older respondents (more than 20 years old) and the
younger respondents (up to 20 years old) did not differ signify-
cantly in their attitudes towards young people from 20 to 25.
The elderly people’s attitudes towards young people from 20 to
25 were not strongly positive. Young people in Bulgaria had
positive attitudes towards young people, but not the most posi-
The image of young people reflected by the media was also
predominantly a positive one.
Only educational groups in Bulgaria differed in their atti-
tudes towards young people. The participants graduated from a
lyceum had the most positive attitudes towards 13 - 19 year-old
and towards 20 - 25 year-old.
Regarding the hypothesis that people who feel satisfied are
more likely to have positive attitude towards young people, it
was proved that life satisfaction now and expected life satisfac-
tion in the future were not related to a more positive attitude
towards 13 - 19 year-old, but the increase of the participants’
life satisfaction in the present time was related to a more posi-
tive attitude toward 20 - 25 year-old, and expected life satisfac-
tion in the future was not. The participants in the study felt
more community with 20 - 25 year-old people that was pretty
their own age group.
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