Emotion dynamics across adulthood in everyday life: Older adults are more emotionally stable and better at regulating desires.

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Older adults report experiencing improved emotional health, such as more intense positive affect and less intense negative affect. However, there are mixed findings on whether older adults are better at regulating emotion-a hallmark feature of emotional health-and most research is based on laboratory studies that may not capture how people regulate their emotions in everyday life. We used experience sampling to examine how multiple measures of emotional health, including mean affect, dynamic fluctuations between affective states and the ability to resist desires-a common form of emotion regulation-differ in daily life across adulthood. Participants (N = 122, ages 20-80) reported how they were feeling and responding to desire temptations for 10 days. Older adults experienced more intense positive affect, less intense negative affect, and were more emotionally stable, even after controlling for individual differences in global life satisfaction. Older adults were more successful at regulating desires, even though they experienced more intense desires than younger adults. In addition, adults in general experiencing more intense affect were less successful at resisting desires. These results demonstrate how emotional experience is related to more successful desire regulation in everyday life and provide unique evidence that emotional health and regulation improve with age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).






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Burr, Daisy A, Jaime J Castrellon, David H Zald and Gregory R Samanez-Larkin (2020). Emotion dynamics across adulthood in everyday life: Older adults are more emotionally stable and better at regulating desires. Emotion (Washington, D.C.). 10.1037/emo0000734 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21173.

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Gregory Russell Samanez-Larkin

Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard Professor

Research in our lab examines how motivation, emotion, and cognition influence decision making and health behavior across the life span. Our research is at the intersection of a number of subfields within psychology, neuroscience, and economics including human development, affective science, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral economics, and consumer finance. We use a combination of behavioral and neuroimaging techniques ranging from detailed measurement of functional brain activity (fMRI) and neuroreceptors (PET) in the laboratory to experience sampling measures of experience and behavior in everyday life, wearable measures physical activity and sleep, and real-world measures of financial management. The goal of our translational research is to make discoveries using the tools of basic science that could inform the development of interventions, products, or services that would enhance health and well being across the life span.

In the classroom, I teach quantitative research methods and statistics, applications of neuroscience research for everyday life, and evidence-based course design in higher education.

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