Reduced facial reactivity as a contributor to preserved emotion regulation in older adults

Pedder, David J., Terrett, Gill, Bailey, Phoebe E., Henry, Julie D., Ruffman, Ted and Rendell, Peter G. (2016) Reduced facial reactivity as a contributor to preserved emotion regulation in older adults. Psychology and Aging, 31 1: 114-125. doi:10.1037/a0039985

Author Pedder, David J.
Terrett, Gill
Bailey, Phoebe E.
Henry, Julie D.
Ruffman, Ted
Rendell, Peter G.
Title Reduced facial reactivity as a contributor to preserved emotion regulation in older adults
Journal name Psychology and Aging   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1939-1498
Publication date 2016-02
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1037/a0039985
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 31
Issue 1
Start page 114
End page 125
Total pages 12
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher American Psychological Association
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
This study investigated whether differences in the type of strategy used, or age-related differences in intensity of facial reactivity, might contribute to preserved emotion regulation ability in older adults. Young (n = 35) and older (n = 33) adults were instructed to regulate their emotion to positive and negative pictures under 3 conditions (watch, expressive suppression, cognitive ‘detached’ reappraisal). Participants were objectively monitored using facial electromyography (EMG) and assessed on memory performance. Both age groups were effectively, and equivalently, able to reduce their facial expressions. In relation to facial reactivity, the percentage increase of older adults’ facial muscle EMG activity in the watch condition was significantly reduced relative to young adults. Recall of pictures following regulation was similar to the watch condition, and there was no difference in memory performance between the 2 regulation strategies for both groups. These findings do not support the proposal that the type of strategy used explains preserved emotion regulation ability in older adults. Coupled with the lack of memory costs following regulation, these data instead are more consistent with the suggestion that older adults may retain emotion regulation capacity partly because they exhibit less facial reactivity to begin with.
Keyword Aging
Emotion regulation
Facial electromyography
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online 21 December 2015

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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