Age-Related Effects of Online Emotion Regulation Strategies on Mood and Memory
Coats, Abby Heckman
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Research suggests that older adults have enhanced emotional outcomes and use different emotion regulation strategies (e.g., more distraction and positive reappraisal) relative to young adults. The present study investigated the mood and memory-related effects of these strategies in young and older adults. Participants watched a sad film clip while being instructed to use specific emotion regulation strategies (i.e., avoiding negativity, focusing on positivity, focusing on negativity, or no instructions). Young adults who were instructed to avoid focusing on negativity showed better mood outcomes and more positive memory for the film compared to non-instructed young adults. Instructions to down-regulate emotions did not affect older adults, possibly because they used such strategies spontaneously. Older adults increased dispositional tendency to focus on positive stimuli in their everyday lives partially explained older adults greater mood improvement. The results have implications for the effectiveness of particular emotion regulation strategies and for the generalizability of the positivity effect.