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Author Osborne, Gabrielle
Title Aging, cognition and emotion
Descript 115 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 68-01, Section: B, page: 0644
Adviser: Deborah Burke
Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Claremont Graduate University, 2007
Socioemotional selectivity theory proposes that older adults' experience, regulation, and processing of emotion are well maintained, and that this has a beneficial effect on cognitive performance wherein older adults repeatedly show better memory for emotional than non-emotional material (e.g., Carstensen & Turk-Charles, 1994; Fung & Carstensen, 2003). It has also been reported that older adults show a bias in attention to, and memory for, positive relative to negative emotional material, namely the Positivity Effect (e.g., Charles, Mather, & Carstensen, 2003; Mather & Carstensen, 2003; Mather & Knight, 2005). However, there is mixed empirical support for this effect and it is only observed under specific experimental conditions. In the present study, the emotional Stroop task was used to investigate emotion effects on young and older adults' attention and memory, with both words and faces as emotional stimuli, and specifically to test for the Positivity Effect. It has also been argued that age-related deficits in inhibitory functioning cause older adults to show greater Stroop interference than young adults with both emotional and non-emotional base-stimuli (e.g., Wurm et al., 2004; Spieler, Balota, & Faust, 1996, respectively). This proposed age-related deficit in performance was tested in the present study. In Experiments 1 and 2, negative emotion, positive emotion, and neutral emotion basewords were base-stimuli. In Experiment 2, arousal level of emotional basewords was also controlled. In Experiment 3 faces with negative, positive, and neutral emotional expressions were base-stimuli. In all three experiments young and older adults showed an equivalent effect of emotion in Stroop interference and recall and recognition, and thus, older adults showed well maintained emotion processing and no evidence of age-related deficits in inhibitory functioning. There was no evidence of a Positivity Effect; both young and older adults showed greater Stroop interference for negative emotion than positive emotion base-stimuli, and superior recall and recognition for negative basewords and basefaces, respectively, than positive or neutral base-stimuli. There was no negative bias in recognition for basewords. These findings and their implications are discussed in the context of theories of aging, cognitive and emotion processing
Keywords. aging, emotion, cognition, socioemotional selectivity theory, positivity effect
School code: 0047
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 68-01B
Subject Gerontology
Psychology, Developmental
Psychology, Cognitive
Alt Author The Claremont Graduate University
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