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Why do older adults display more positive emotion? It might have to do with what they're looking at

Date:
August 8, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Research has shown that older adults display more positive emotions and are quicker to regulate out of negative emotional states than younger adults. Given the declines in cognitive functioning and physical health that tend to come with age, we might expect that age would be associated with worse moods, not better ones. So what explains older adults' positive mood regulation?

Research has shown that older adults display more positive emotions and are quicker to regulate out of negative emotional states than younger adults. Given the declines in cognitive functioning and physical health that tend to come with age, we might expect that age would be associated with worse moods, not better ones.

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So what explains older adults' positive mood regulation?

In a new article in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researcher Derek Isaacowitz of Northeastern University explores positive looking as one possible explanation: older adults may be better at regulating emotion because they tend to direct their eyes away from negative material or toward positive material.

Isaacowitz presents evidence indicating that, compared to younger adults, older adults prefer positive looking patterns and they show the most positive looking when they are in bad moods, even though this is when younger adults show the most negative looking.

Research conducted by Isaacowitz and colleagues indicates that there is actually a causal relationship between positive looking and mood: for adults with good attentional abilities, positive looking patterns can help to regulate their mood.

Although older adults prefer to focus on positive stimuli, the research shows that they aren't necessarily missing any salient or important information.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. M. Isaacowitz. Mood Regulation in Real Time: Age Differences in the Role of Looking. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2012; 21 (4): 237 DOI: 10.1177/0963721412448651

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Why do older adults display more positive emotion? It might have to do with what they're looking at." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808132715.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, August 8). Why do older adults display more positive emotion? It might have to do with what they're looking at. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808132715.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Why do older adults display more positive emotion? It might have to do with what they're looking at." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808132715.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

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