THE ROLE OF PERSONALITY IN EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY: A COMPARISON BETWEEN OLDER AND YOUNGER ADULTS

Priska Steenhaut, Ineke Demeyer, Rudi De Raedt, Gina Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract (Journal)

Abstract

Despite the losses older adults (OA) experience, they demonstrate more emotional wellbeing than younger adults (YA). According to the socio-emotional selectivity theory, OA are better in regulating emotions. They also seem to react physiologically less strongly to emotional stimuli than YA. Moreover, in YA a link between personality and emotional reactivity has been found. This study investigates whether emotional reactivity and its link with personality differs between YA and OA. To do this 120 YA (25–50 years) and OA (65+) were recruited. Personality was measured with the MMPI-2-RF-PSY-5-r and BFI scales. Physiological measures (HRV, SCL, fEMG (corrugator, zygomaticus)) were assessed while participants viewed a happy and sad film. Subjective reactivity (VAS) was registered after each film. We found that OA had stronger subjective reactivity for happy and sad films than YA, but that the only difference in physiological reactivity was that YA showed more arousal (SCL) during the happy film. OA’s stronger subjective reactivity to sad films was related to higher scores on neuroticism and negative emotionality. In YA, negative emotionality went along with more frowning (corrugator) during sad films. Moreover, in YA, neuroticism was related to less arousal when seeing the happy (trend significant) and sad films, and higher HRV during the happy film. To conclude, differences in physiological reactivity to emotional stimuli between OA and YA are limited, which implies that techniques like biofeedback don’t need to be adapted to ageing. Relationships between personality and reactivity were, with the exception of neuroticism in YA, in the expected directions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-502
Number of pages2
JournalInnovation in Aging
Volume1
Issue numbersuppl_1, 1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event21st International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) World Congress - San Fransisco, United States
Duration: 23 Jul 201727 Jul 2017

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