This application addresses broad Challenge Area (R21): Basic Research on Self-Regulation, RFA-AG-11-010: Exploratory/developmental research applications examining basic mechanisms of self-regulation. Our knowledge of the real-time dynamics of emotion regulation is limited in part due to the labor- and time-intensive nature of current coding systems as well as reliance on statistical methods that ignore time-relevant information and social context. The main purpose of this research is to evaluate the impact of a social partner on age-related differences in basic processes of emotion regulation. We propose to advance current understanding of basic processes of emotion regulation by i) measuring communicative displays of facial expression, vocal prosody, and head movement through automated acquisition with high temporal resolution, ii) inclusion of a social partner to test differences between within- person and between-person regulation of emotional expression, and iii) estimate contributions of emotion experience and sensitivity in the perception of emotion cues to age-related differences in emotion regulation. These findings will further our understanding of basic emotion regulation processes and provide a foundation on which to build interventions that have the potential to transform research in communication throughout the lifespan. There is a growing literature documenting positive age-related changes in emotion regulation from young through late adulthood. Older adults report being more effective at regulating their emotions compared to younger adults. In contrast other studies suggest age-related declines in the ability to express and perceive emotional information. Concurrent age- related improvements in emotion regulation and declines in expression and perception of negative emotions require explanation in the context of emotion regulation during a conversation. Conversations require simultaneous regulation of subjective emotions, regulation of expressed emotions, and perception of expressed emotions of the conversational partner. It is as yet unclear how these observed age-related differences in perception and expression of emotions contribute to emotion regulation in natural interpersonal intergenerational interactions. The goals of the current project are to (a) examine differences in emotion regulation depending on whether a conversational partner is present or absent, (b) to evaluate age-related differences in emotion regulation related to the age of a conversational partner, and (c) to estimate contributions of the ability to express one's own emotions and perceive others'emotions on observed dynamics of emotion regulation.

Public Health Relevance

The main purpose of this research is to evaluate the impact of a social partner on age-related differences in basic processes of emotion regulation. This research will provide a foundation on which to build interventions for communication and to develop non-invasive diagnostic tools for early detection of physiological and psychological disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-L (53))
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Nielsen, Lisbeth
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University of Virginia
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Meyer, M Joseph (2017) Constant and Variable Time Delays of Synchrony of Facial Expressions in Dyadic Conversations. Multivariate Behav Res 52:122-123
Staples, Angela D; Bates, John E; Petersen, Isaac T (2015) Bedtime routines in early childhood: prevalence, consistency, and associations with nighttime sleep. Monogr Soc Res Child Dev 80:141-59