Evaluating the Valence of Remembered Events: The Importance of Age and Self-Relevance

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We examined the role of self-relevance in older and younger adults' evaluations of remembered events. In Study 1, participants rated the positivity of their own positive, negative and neutral memories as well as those of a same-aged peer. Older adults rated events more positively than younger adults did, regardless of the memory source. In Study 2, we showed that this age difference is not due to differences in the valence of the events that older and younger adults reported. This effect appears to reflect the more positive mindset of older people, rather than an intention to regulate emotions associated with personal experiences. Finally, there was one effect for self relevance: Regardless of age, participants rated their own remembered events as more emotionally intense than those of a same aged peer.

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