There is increasing evidence that the experience and regulation of emotion is well-maintained in the later years of the life span, and may even improve. In this competing renewal, we propose seven studies that will address possible reasons for, and consequences of, this apparent developmental shift. Our laboratory has amassed considerable evidence that older people process emotional information more deeply than they do non-emotional information, and we have identified a reliable pattern in which older adults attend to and better remember positive (as opposed to negative) information. We postulate that these age differences may reflect developmental changes that contribute to the effective regulation of emotion. In this continuation application, we propose several studies utilizing diverse methodologies aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of the behavior we have identified in earlier grant years, and applying theoretically-derived knowledge to domains of high social significance. In three studies we will compare older and younger dysphorics, assess meditators schooled in the release of strong emotions, and examine a subsample of distinctively superior and inferior emotion regulators to obtain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of age and individual differences in effective emotion regulation. In three other studies we will test hypotheses about memory for health-related public service announcements framed in either positive or negative terms, differences in preferences for health treatments as a function time horizons, and ways in which instructions that encourage reliance on emotion may improve health care decisions. In addition to these new research directions, we request continued support for a fourth wave of data collection in a longitudinal study of emotional experience begun in 1993, so that identified age differences can be understood in the context of change over time.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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No Study Section (in-house review) (NSS)
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Gerald, Melissa S
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Stanford University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Kircanski, Katharina; Notthoff, Nanna; DeLiema, Marguerite et al. (2018) Emotional arousal may increase susceptibility to fraud in older and younger adults. Psychol Aging 33:325-337
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English, Tammy; Carstensen, Laura L (2014) Will interventions targeting conscientiousness improve aging outcomes? Dev Psychol 50:1478-81

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