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The Embodiment of an Older Avatar in a Virtual Reality Setting Impacts the Social Motivation of Young Adults.

Authors
  • Vahle, Nils1
  • Tomasik, Martin J1, 2
  • 1 Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Witten-Herdecke, Witten, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 2 Institute for Educational Evaluation, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Experimental aging research
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
Volume
48
Issue
2
Pages
164–176
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1080/0361073X.2021.1943793
PMID: 34182895
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Socio-emotional selectivity theory implies that an individual's motives change over their lifespan, starting with a focus on information seeking and shifting toward the motivation of maintaining emotionally meaningful social relationships in old age. The concept of future time perspective serves as an underlying mechanism for this phenomenon. This study aimed to capture how social motivation changes as a result of the manipulation of one's own visual appearance. Thus, the explicit age stereotypes of N = 74 participants were assessed, among other covariates. The following intervention consisted of a virtual reality (VR) scenario in which the experimental group embodied an old age avatar and the control group a young age avatar. Changes in social motivation were assessed using the concept of socio-emotional selectivity based on imagined situational preferences. Results with strong effect sizes indicate that changes in social motivation commonly connected with old age might be caused by visual cues when actively embodying a virtual avatar.

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