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Older Adults' Responses to Emotional Stimuli: A Cautionary Note
13th March 2009, Experimental Aging Research
Sherry A. Beaudreau, Anna MacKay, Martha Storandt
Thirty younger (mean age = 21 years) and 30 older (mean age = 73 years) adults were compared to determine if they had similar affective experiences to eight emotion films previously validated with young adults (Gross & Levenson, 1995). Participants rated their emotions, and heart rate was collected during two films of each emotion: amusement, anger, sadness, and fear. Older and younger adults were generally similar in their physiological and subjective responses to films, but with a few exceptions. Older adults reported more intense anger in response to one film and more intense nontarget negative emotions for both anger films compared with young adults. Some older adults also reported a negative response compared with young adults to one of the films designed to elicit amusement. Thus it is inappropriate to assume that emotional stimuli produce the same response across the adult life span.