The value of social attributes of stimuli for promoting engagement in persons with dementia

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield*, Khin Thein, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Marcia S. Marx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The present study examined the impact of different attributes of social stimuli using the stimulus attributes aspect of the Comprehensive Process Model of Engagement ( Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 17:299-307). Participants were 193 residents of 7 Maryland nursing homes with a diagnosis of dementia. Stimuli were chosen to represent different levels of the following social attributes: social versus not social, realistic versus not realistic, animated versus nonanimated, human versus nonhuman, and alive versus not alive. Participants had significantly longer engagement, were significantly more attentive, and displayed a significantly more positive attitude with social stimuli than with nonsocial stimuli. Longer durations and higher ratings of attention and attitude were seen with realistic and animated stimuli as compared to their counterparts. Human and live stimuli resulted in significantly more engagement than their counterparts. Giving any social stimulus to the residents is preferable to providing none, and the social attributes of stimuli should be maximized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-592
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


FundersFunder number
National Institute on AgingR01AG021497


    • Dementia
    • comprehensive process model of engagement
    • engagement
    • nursing home
    • social stimuli


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