Despite the rapid increase in the size of the geriatric population, no current published literature is available based on the effects of viewing a documentary covering medical and psychosocial issues concerning older adults influencing young people’s empathy and ageism. The aim of the current study was to test whether participants who viewed an original documentary about older adults experiencing physical pain would report lower ageism and higher empathy scores when compared to participants who watched a neutral documentary.
Seventy-seven students (ages 18–29 years) were randomized to either the experimental (pain documentary) or the control (neutral documentary) conditions and given pre- and post-test measures of empathy and ageism.
The results of a series of Profile Analyses (Multivariate Mixed ANOVAs) showed a significant interaction (Wilk’s λ=0.933, F(1,75)=5.389, p=0.023, partial η 2=0.067) between treatment and time (pre- vs. post-viewing the film) for the empathy measure that was confirmed by follow-up t-tests. The latter showed a significant increase in empathy scores for only the experimental group, t(37)=−2.999, p=0.005. However, contrary to the original prediction, this same treatment by time effect was not observed for ageism (Wilk’s λ=0.994, F(1,75)=0.482, p=0.490, partial η 2=0.006), as the experimental participants did not significantly reduce their ageism scores, t(38)=0.725, p=0.473. The results of these analyses, as well as those obtained by using the subscales of each questionnaire, have been discussed.