This study brings more clarity on the inconsistent findings on emotional reactivity differences between older (OA) and younger (YA) adults, by examining the influence of (mal)adaptive personality traits on emotional reactivity and by applying several assessment methods. We recruited 60 YA (25-50 years) and 60 OA (65+ years) from a nonclinical population. We used Visual Analogue Scales to measure subjective reactivity, and facial electromyography (corrugator and zygomaticus reactivity), heart rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance level to assess physiological reactivity during happy and sad film clips. Results showed that personality influences on emotional reactivity in OA were largely comparable to YA, although the influence of negative emotionality and neuroticism on subjective reactivity in response to the sad film was significantly stronger in OA. It is thus important to assess both subjective and physiological reactivity when comparing age-related differences in OA and YA given the differential relation with personality features.
- emotional reactivity
- older adults