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Title: Emotion recognition ability in older adults
Author: Dimelow, Nicola Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 0276
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigated the extent of age-related emotion recognition deficits across several emotions, presentations, and stimuli types. Evidence suggests that older adults (OAs) are less able than younger adults (YAs) to recognise emotions (Ruffman et al., 2008). However, clarity regarding the breadth of these age-related emotion recognition deficits may be thwarted by difficulties in comparing findings due to methodological variations and sample differences. The current research sought to address some of these issues by comparing the emotion recognition ability of OAs (59 to 84 years) to those of YAs (18 to 29 years). Phase 1 of the research used a series of tightly controlled experiments to measure emotion recognition (for happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust) and non-emotion processing from static faces, non-verbal vocalisations, and single words. Phase 2 employed unimodal and cross-modal presentations of dynamic faces and prosodic sentences to measure recognition of the same basic emotions as well as a different set of discrete emotions (joy, amusement, pride, anger, and surprise). In terms of deficits the only emotion for which OAs showed a consistent impairment was anger as seen when static faces were used, when all presentation types were compared in Phase 1 and in one experiment in Phase 2. Moreover there is evidence to suggest that this deficit for anger is a specific function of the older-older (70 years+) adults' performance. OAs were also impaired in recognising joy from prosodic sentences and older-older adults in recognising sad from faces. More generally OAs had a deficit in processing auditory information and older-old adults in processing static faces irrespective of the emotion content. In contrast, OAs showed a superior ability than YAs to recognise emotion from words (particularly sad) and disgust when all presentation types were compared in Phase 1. It is concluded, therefore, that OAs' emotion recognition deficits are not as widespread as previously reported and in many cases performance is maintained and even improves in later years.
Supervisor: Morgan, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available