Time Perspective and Positivity Effects in Alzheimer’s Disease

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This study tested whether time perspective, a central tenant of socioemotional selectivity theory (Carstensen, 2006), moderates positivity effects in emotional memory. To provide measures of time perspective, young (YA; M = 22.48 years), young-old (YO; M = 67.56 years), old-old adults (OO; M = 80.24 years), and participants with moderate severity Alzheimer’s disease (PAD; M = 84.28 years) completed a line task and reported subjective age. As expected, YA, YO, and OO reported successively more constrained future time perspectives. PAD showed distortion in time perspective, envisioning a future comparable with the YO, although closer matched in chronological age to OO adults. To evince positivity effects, participants were oriented to pairs of emotional images and were then tested for memory (recall and recognition) of the images. Recall and recognition memory for the images indicated an age-related advantage for positive over negative material (positivity effects). Time perspective, however, did not moderate these age effects. In memory performance, PAD were more comparable with OO adults with whom they shared a similar chronological age, rather than YO adults, who had a corresponding time perspective. These results suggest that age correlates that are shared by PAD and OO, such as reduced processing resources, rather than time perspective, may drive the age associated positivity effects.

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