Combatting ageism through virtual embodiment? Using explicit and implicit measures

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2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Ageism is defined as stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination towards people because of their age. Although ageism can be directed towards people of any age group, most research has focused on ageism towards older people. Ageism towards older people is known to have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing and to even result in higher healthcare costs. The present study evaluated the use of virtual embodiment (VE) to reduce self- and other-directed ageism. Design, setting, and participants: We randomized 80 individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 years to one of two conditions: VE as an older or a younger avatar. Results: No differences were found on explicit measures of ageism. Once multiple comparisons were accounted for, a nonsignificant reduction in implicit age bias following exposure to the older avatar (Cohen's d =.75, p =.02) also was found. Conclusions: Past research has established the effectiveness of VE in relation to implicit measures. However, once both explicit and implicit measures are included and multiple comparisons are accounted for, neither explicit nor implicit measures of ageism show a significant effect. Given the multidimensional nature of ageism, further research is needed to establish the effectiveness of VE once multiple measures of ageism are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 12 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the Impact Center for the Study of Ageism and Old Age provided by Gabi Weisfeld.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 International Psychogeriatric Association.


  • ageism
  • avatar
  • discrimination
  • explicit
  • implicit
  • older adults
  • virtual embodiment


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