An “ultimate partnership”: Older persons’ perspectives on age-stereotypes and intergenerational interaction in co-designing digital technologies

Ittay Mannheim*, Dana Weiss, Yvonne Van zaalen, Eveline J.M. Wouters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


There is often a gap between the ideal of involving older persons iteratively throughout the design process of digital technology, and actual practice. Until now, the lens of ageism has not been applied to address this gap. The goals of this study were: to voice the perspectives and experiences of older persons who participated in co-designing regarding the design process; their perceived role in co-designing and intergenerational interaction with the designers; and apparent manifestations of ageism that potentially influence the design of digital technology.

Twenty-one older persons participated in three focus groups. Five themes were identified using thematic analysis which combined a critical ageism ‘lens’ deductive approach and an inductive approach.

Ageism was experienced by participants in their daily lives and interactions with the designers during the design process. Negative images of ageing were pointed out as a potential influencing factor on design decisions. Nevertheless, positive experiences of inclusive design pointed out the importance of “partnership” in the design process. Participants defined the “ultimate partnership” in co-designing as processes in which they were involved from the beginning, iteratively, in a participatory approach. Such processes were perceived as leading to successful design outcomes, which they would like to use, and reduced intergenerational tension.

This study highlights the potential role of ageism as a detrimental factor in how digital technologies are designed. Viewing older persons as partners in co-designing and aspiring to more inclusive design processes may promote designing technologies that are needed, wanted and used.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105050
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • participatory design
  • co-design
  • digital technology
  • focus group
  • ageism


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