Evidence suggests that ageist biases may operate implicitly (i.e. automatically and unconsciously) to affect discriminatory attitudes and behaviors toward older adults. However, few studies have tested the malleability of implicit age bias. The present study tests the effect of a framing intervention on implicit age bias in a nationally-representative sample of American adults.
Participants (N=767) were randomly assigned to read one of three framed messages, to an unframed message about aging, or to a control message unrelated to aging. Framed messages emphasized (i) the contributions of older adults to society; (ii) aging as a process of accumulating wisdom and energy; (c) mechanisms through which prejudice against older adults operates. Participants subsequently completed an Aging Implicit Association Test (IAT) to assess implicit bias.
Relative to the control condition, participants in the three framed message conditions displayed lower implicit age bias. No differences were observed between participants in the control condition and those who read the unframed message.
Findings indicate that reframing messages about aging can decrease implicit bias against older adults. This study highlights ways for communicators to promote a positive understanding of the aging process, thereby mitigating sources of implicit prejudice.