Valuing excitement makes people look forward to old age less and dread it more

Jeanne L. Tsai*, Tamara Sims, Yang Qu, Ewart Thomas, Da Jiang, Helene H. Fung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Previous research has shown that American culture places a premium on excitement, enthusiasm, and other high-arousal positive states (HAP) compared with various East Asian cultures. In two studies, we tested the prediction that valuing HAP would be associated with less positive personal views of old age (i.e., fewer things people looked forward to and more things they dreaded about old age) in samples of European American, Chinese American, and Hong Kong Chinese younger, middle-aged, and older adults. In Study 1 (N = 849), participants rated how much they ideally wanted to feel HAP during a typical week and described their personal views of old age. As predicted, European American middle and older adults valued HAP more than did their Chinese American and Hong Kong Chinese peers, and these differences in ideal HAP were related to less positive personal views of old age. In Study 2 (N = 164), we experimentally manipulated how much individuals valued HAP and then assessed their personal views of old age: Across cultures, participants in the "value HAP" condition had less positive personal views of old age than did those in the control condition. These effects did not emerge for societal views of old age (i.e., what people associated with "someone" old vs. young). Together, these findings suggest that people's personal views of their own old age are due, in part, to how much excitement they ideally want to feel. (PsycINFO Database Record .

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)975-992
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • culture
  • emotion
  • ideal affect
  • views of old age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Social Psychology
  • Aging


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