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Title: Emotion processing in older adults
Author: Tarrant, Louise
ISNI:       0000 0001 3499 3926
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis considers the suggestion that older adult mental health problems are lower than those of younger adults, and positive affect remains constant, whereas negative affect declines with age (Jorm, 2000; Christensen et al., 1999; Lennings, 2000). Emotion processing includes: identifying emotional stimuli, their significance, and producing affective states in response (i.e. emotion activation); and regulating affective states (i.e. emotion regulation) (Phillips, Drevets, Rauch & Lane, 2003). Age-related changes in emotion activation and regulation are explored as explanatory factors for changes in older adult mental health and affect. Various paradigms have been used within older age emotion processing research. Evidence for the presence of age-related, emotion activation declines and for improved strategic, regulatory factors in older age is mixed. Further research is required, particularly using attention paradigms, which could facilitate differentiation between emotion activation and emotion regulation age differences. The empirical study examined age-related changes in ability to discriminate ambiguous emotional faces, using morphed facial expressions and a signal detection paradigm. It was predicted that older adults would show reduced discrimination of, and greater response bias against, negative emotional expressions, relative to positive emotional expressions. No age differences in discrimination ability were found but older adults were significantly biased towards reporting less anger (relative to happiness). Neither older adult neurological decline nor strategic emotion regulation accounts of age-related emotion processing differences are supported by these findings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available