Speaking About Feelings: Further Evidence for Multidirectional Age Differences in Anger and Sadness

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Abstract

This study investigated age differences in anger and sadness in a sample of 82 younger (Mage = 26, SDage = 4.05) and 80 older (Mage = 70, SDage = 3.95) adults. Participants were instructed to first relive a personal memory that was characterized by either anger or sadness and to subsequently think aloud about this memory. Across different emotional response systems (i.e., subjective feelings, verbal expressions, facial behaviors, physiological arousal), older adults reacted with less anger than did their younger counterparts, whereas age differences in sadness were less pronounced. Together the findings corroborate the idea that age differences in negative emotional reactivity are multidirectional and suggest that a discrete emotions approach may complement dimensional approaches to emotional aging.

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