This study investigated whether age-related sensitivity to self-relevance may benefit perspective taking, despite generally poorer perspective-taking capacity in older adults. In one perceptual matching task and two visual perspective-taking paradigms, we examined age differences in sensitivity to avatars representing self and other. In the matching task, older (60–83 years) and younger (18–20 years) adults were similarly biased toward the self- versus other-associated avatar. In the perspective-taking tasks, participants viewed these avatars within a virtual room. Task-relevant perspectives were either the same (i.e., congruent) or different (i.e., incongruent). In the 3PP–3PP task, both avatars were present, and participants adopted the perspective of one or the other. As in the matching task, young and old were similarly biased toward the self-associated avatar. However, age differences emerged in the 1PP–3PP task, which presented only one avatar per trial (varying between self and other), and participants responded based on their own first-person perspective or the avatar's. In summary, age modulated the ability to take perspectives primarily when participants’ own first-person perspective was task relevant. Relative to younger adults, older adults prioritized the self (vs. other) avatar more during initial perspective computation and the first-person (vs. third-person) perspective more when selecting between incongruent perspectives.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Experimental Psychology Society.
- First-person versus third-person
- Social–cognitive ageing
- Visual perspective taking
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Psychology (all)
- Physiology (medical)