Greater negative affect and mixed emotions during spontaneous reactions to sad films in older than younger adults

Molly A. Mather, Rebecca E. Ready*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Older adults may be better able to regulate emotion responses to negative experiences than younger persons when provided instructions, but age group differences in spontaneous emotion responses are poorly understood. The current study determined age group differences in spontaneous reactivity and recovery in negative and positive affects, as well as the co-occurrence of negative and positive affects, following a laboratory mood induction. Younger (n = 71) and older adults (n = 44) rated negative and positive affects before and several times after a negative mood induction involving sad film clips. ANCOVA and multilevel longitudinal modeling in HLM were utilized to determine age group differences in spontaneous reactivity to and recovery from the mood induction, as well as age group differences in co-occurrence of negative and positive affects. Relative to younger adults, older adults reported greater negative affect reactivity to and recovery from the mood induction. Older adults also reported greater co-occurrence of negative and positive affects in response to the mood induction, as compared to younger adults. Thus, older adults reacted more strongly to sad film clips than younger persons, exhibited efficient recovery, and reported greater co-occurrence of negative and positive affects. A fruitful line of future research might determine whether affect co-occurrence facilitates effective emotion regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Affect
  • Aging
  • Co-occurrence
  • Emotion recovery
  • Mood induction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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