04:46am Sunday 22 October 2017

Why Do Older Adults Display More Positive Emotion? It Might Have to Do with What They’re Looking At

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?

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.

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For more information about this study, please contact: Derek M. Isaacowitz at dmi@neu.edu.

Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, publishes concise reviews on the latest advances in theory and research spanning all of scientific psychology and its applications. For a copy of “Mood Regulation in Real Time: Age Differences in the Role of Looking” and access to other Current Directions in Psychological Science research findings, please contact Anna Mikulak at 202-293-9300


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