There is increasing evidence that older adults display a greater sensitivity to problem solving contexts and select problem-solving and emotion regulation strategies accordingly. In this competing renewal we propose eight studies that will further document this pattern, explore underlying mechanisms, and assess the adaptive consequences. We have accumulated evidence that this age-related pattern of responding is most evident in interpersonal and emotionally-charged problems. In these situations, older adults used passive emotion regulation strategies in combination with proactive strategies, whereas young and middle-aged adults focused more on proactive strategies. We suggest that this differential pattern of everyday problem solving in older adults is adaptive and reflects growing evidence that older adults are more effective in emotion regulation. In the first study we will conduct a time-sampling analysis of naturally occurring emotional and physiological outcomes that occur in association with problem solving and emotion-regulation strategy use including the role discrete emotions and personal goals play in strategy selection. The next four studies will focus on age differences in the fit between goals and strategy use. First we will examine age differences in problem solving goals. The next three studies will relate personal goals to everyday problem solving strategies taking an idiographic approach, and two studies experimentally manipulating goal orientation (future time perspective and social versus instrumental goals) to determine if goals are an important driving mechanism behind age-related differences in problem-solving strategy use. Finally, a third set of three studies will explore the idea that older adults' penchant for emotion regulation is motivated by the increased importance of emotions and the ability to regulate them. In addition, what are benefits and costs of this goal focus? We will use converging methods to assess emotion regulation strategy use as well as psychological and physiological emotional reactivity. ? ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
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Nielsen, Lisbeth
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Georgia Institute of Technology
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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