Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mood Affects Young And Old Differently, Study Finds

Date:
March 17, 2006
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
The effect of mood on how people process information changes greatly as they age, suggests new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The effect of mood on how people process information changes greatly as they age, suggests new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The study, which offers a window into the changing nature of the aging mind and the way it handles emotion and information, appears in the latest edition of the journal Psychology and Aging.

Related Articles


Researchers from Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology’s Adult Development lab examined how younger and older adults who were induced into a positive or negative mood interpreted the actions of others. They found that older adults who were induced into a negative mood were more likely than younger adults to attribute the actions of an individual to that person alone, rather than considering that situational factors may be affecting their actions. This correspondence bias suggests that, when in a negative mood, older adults are more internally focused on maintaining an emotionally satisfying experience and thus have difficulty processing external information.

"It may be the case that older adults in a negative mood state are more motivated to downgrade their negative emotions and, thus, not allocate enough processing time to focus on the details of the situation. So this needs to be taken into consideration when imparting information to older adults,” said Fredda Blanchard-Fields, professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology.

One situation where this knowledge might be useful is when a doctor has to tell a patient they have a serious illness.

"You want to give them time to deal with the fact that they have the illness, to deal with the emotions before you have them make a decision on how to treat it,” she said.

That’s very different from the way young people handle information. When in a negative mood, young adults were more likely to consider situational factors when assessing an individual’s behavior, the study found. Younger adults may not have the same motivational tendencies and thus can tolerate negative emotions more easily and focus on the details of the task. This suggests that they are more externally focused when in a negative mood.

Researchers recruited 97 young adults between 18 and 28 years of age and 94 older adults whose ages ranged between 59-80 years. Participants in the study viewed film clips designed to induce them into either a positive, negative or neutral mood. Once they completed a test that measured their mood, they were given a test to measure their attention to detail and working memory capacity. Finally, they were given an essay and asked to assess whether they thought the opinions in the essay were forced or the result of the writer’s own choosing.

When in a negative mood, older adults were more likely than younger adults to assume that the actions of the essay writer reflected a true belief, despite the fact that the writer had no choice in which belief to advocate.

“We thought that this was because the older adults were not focusing on the essay, not focusing on the instructions,” said Andy Mienaltowski, graduate researcher and lead author of the study. “Instead, they were focusing on their negative mood state, their emotional state that they had been put in before they read the essay.”

These findings seem to support other research suggesting that as people age, they become more interested in regulating their emotions and eliminating negativity.

"Older adults may be captured by the negativity and, therefore, focus attention on emotion regulation,” said Blanchard-Fields. “Therefore, they focus attention on emotion regulation rather than focusing attention on the details that they need to internalize. So it’s a dual task for them.”

When positive moods were induced, the roles were reversed. This time, the younger adults were more likely to be less focused and exhibit the correspondence bias, and the older adults were detail oriented and considered other factors when explaining the writer’s essay.

"Here we see that younger people tend to become more lax and lose focus; whereas, older people are more likely to focus on the task they are completing,” said Mienaltowski.

"So it shows that the young and old are motivated by different goals and, therefore, perceive and process information differently because of the changes in goals across the lifespan,” said Blanchard-Fields.

The next study for the research team will be comparing the effects of negative mood on cognition in younger and older adults.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "Mood Affects Young And Old Differently, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060317120417.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2006, March 17). Mood Affects Young And Old Differently, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060317120417.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "Mood Affects Young And Old Differently, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060317120417.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins