Stanford University

Virtually old:
Embodied perspective taking and the reduction of ageism under threat

Oh, S. Y., Bailenson, J., Weisz, E., & Zaki, J. (2016). Virtually old: Embodied perspective taking and the reduction of ageism under threat. Computers in Human Behavior. 60, 398-410.

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Abstract

Intergroup threat harms attitudes toward the outgroup, leading to greater levels of prejudice and outgroup derogation (Rothgerber, 1997). Two experiments were conducted to examine (1) if perspective taking mitigates the negative influence of threat on explicit and implicit intergenerational attitudes and, if so, (2) whether this buffering effect would be stronger for participants who embodied an elderly person in an immersive virtual environment (IVE) compared to those who engaged in a traditional perspective taking exercise via mental simulation (MS). When intergroup threat was presented without intergroup contact (Study 1), the negative effect of threat on ageism dissipated when participants engaged in a perspective taking exercise. Differential effects were found depending on the perspective taking medium. However, when participants were exposed to a concrete and experiential intergroup threat (Study 2), neither modality of perspective taking (IVE and MS) buffered negative intergenerational attitudes.

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