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Age differences in managing response to sadness elicitors using attentional deployment, positive reappraisal and suppression

Lohani, Monika ; Isaacowitz, Derek M

Cognition & Emotion, 19 May 2014, Vol.28(4), pp.678-697 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Age differences in managing response to sadness elicitors using attentional deployment, positive reappraisal and suppression
  • Author/Creator: Lohani, Monika ; Isaacowitz, Derek M
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Ageing ; Sadness ; Emotion Regulation ; Psychophysiology ; Psychology
  • Is Part Of: Cognition & Emotion, 19 May 2014, Vol.28(4), pp.678-697
  • Description: The current study investigated age differences in the use of attentional deployment, positive reappraisal and suppression while regulating responses to sadness-eliciting content. We also tested to what extent these emotion regulation strategies were useful for each age group in managing response to age-relevant sad information. Forty-two young participants (M age = 18.5, SE = .15) and 48 older participants (M age = 71.42, SE = 1.15) watched four sadness-eliciting videos (about death/illness, four to five minutes long) under four conditions-no-regulation (no regulation instructions), attentional deployment (divert attention away), positive reappraisal (focus on positive outcomes) and suppression (conceal emotional expressions). We assessed negative emotional experience, expression, skin conductance level (SCL) and visual fixation duration while participants watched the emotional clips and followed the instructions for each condition. Results suggest that older adults were more successful than younger adults at implementing both attentional deployment and positive reappraisal. Ability to suppress emotions appears to remain stable with age. Within age-group comparisons suggested that for the older adults, positive reappraisal was a more useful emotion regulation strategy than the others, while the pattern among younger adults was less conclusive. Age-relevant differences in motivation and successful emotion regulatory efforts based on theoretical and empirical literatures are discussed.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0269-9931 ; E-ISSN: 1464-0600 ; DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2013.853648