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      A Randomized Controlled Study on the Effects of a Documentary on Students’ Empathy and Attitudes towards Older Adults

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          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.


          The findings of this preliminary study indicate that showing a pain-based, anti-bias documentary feature film has the potential to significantly improve empathy towards older adults in university students.

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          Most cited references 39

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          This Old Stereotype: The Pervasiveness and Persistence of the Elderly Stereotype

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            Modern attitudes toward older adults in the aging world: A cross-cultural meta-analysis.

            Prevailing beliefs suggest that Eastern cultures hold older adults in higher esteem than Western cultures do, due to stronger collectivist traditions of filial piety. However, in modern, industrialized societies, the strain presented by dramatic rises in population aging potentially threatens traditional cultural expectations. Addressing these competing hypotheses, a literature search located 37 eligible papers, comprising samples from 23 countries and 21,093 total participants, directly comparing Easterners and Westerners (as classified per U.N. conventions) in their attitudes toward aging and the aged. Contradicting conventional wisdom, a random-effects meta-analysis on these articles found such evaluations to be more negative in the East overall (standardized mean difference = -0.31). High heterogeneity in study comparisons suggested the presence of moderators; indeed, geographical region emerged as a significant moderating factor, with the strongest levels of senior derogation emerging in East Asia (compared with South and Southeast Asia) and non-Anglophone Europe (compared with North American and Anglophone Western regions). At the country level, multiple-moderator meta-regression analysis confirmed recent rises in population aging to significantly predict negative elder attitudes, controlling for industrialization per se over the same time period. Unexpectedly, these analyses also found that cultural individualism significantly predicted relative positivity-suggesting that, for generating elder respect within rapidly aging societies, collectivist traditions may backfire. The findings suggest the importance of demographic challenges in shaping modern attitudes toward elders-presenting considerations for future research in ageism, cross-cultural psychology, and even economic development, as societies across the globe accommodate unprecedented numbers of older citizens.
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              A conceptual framework for the use of illness narratives in medical education.

               K Kumagai (2008)
              The use of narratives, including physicians' and patients' stories, literature, and film, is increasingly popular in medical education. There is, however, a need for an overarching conceptual framework to guide these efforts, which are often dismissed as "soft" and placed at the margins of medical school curricula. The purpose of this article is to describe the conceptual basis for an approach to patient-centered medical education and narrative medicine initiated at the University of Michigan Medical School in the fall of 2003. This approach, the Family Centered Experience, involves home visits and conversations between beginning medical students and patient volunteers and their families and is aimed at fostering humanism in medicine. The program incorporates developmental and learning theory, longitudinal interactions with individuals with chronic illness, reflective learning, and small-group discussions to explore the experience of illness and its care. The author describes a grounding of this approach in theories of empathy and moral development and clarifies the educational value that narratives bring to medical education. Specific pedagogical considerations, including use of activities to create "cognitive disequilibrium" and the concept of transformative learning, are also discussed and may be applied to narrative medicine, professionalism, multicultural education, medical ethics, and other subject areas in medical education that address individuals and their health care needs in society.

                Author and article information

                Psychol Cogn Sci
                Psychol Cogn Sci
                Psychology and cognitive sciences : open journal
                30 August 2017
                20 July 2017
                31 January 2018
                : 3
                : 3
                : 79-88
                [1 ]Psychology Department, California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA 91330, USA
                [2 ]Psychological Sciences, University of California, Merced, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Merced, CA 95340, USA
                [3 ]Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Education, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Luciana Laganá, PhD, Professor, Psychology Department, California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA 91330, USA, Tel. 818-677-2827, luciana.lagana@ 123456csun.edu

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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