Is There an Age-Related Positivity Effect in Visual Attention? A Comparison of Two Methodologies

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Abstract

Research suggests a positivity effect in older adults' memory for emotional material, but the evidence from the attentional domain is mixed. The present study combined 2 methodologies for studying preferences in visual attention, eye tracking, and dot-probe, as younger and older adults viewed synthetic emotional faces. Eye tracking most consistently revealed a positivity effect in older adults' attention, so that older adults showed preferential looking toward happy faces and away from sad faces. Dot-probe results were less robust, but in the same direction. Methodological and theoretical implications for the study of socioemotional aging are discussed.

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