An emotional bias in processing facial expressions: similarities and differences across age
Hilimire, Matthew R.
MetadataShow full item record
Previous research indicates that young adults (aged 18-30) tend to exhibit a negativity bias such that they enhance processing of negative emotional stimuli compared to neutral stimuli. Because of age-differences in emotion regulatory goals, older adults (aged 60+) often exhibit enhanced processing for positive rather than for negative stimuli a positivity effect. I examined age-related differences in processing emotional facial expressions using event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by task-relevant emotional (i.e., angry, sad, happy) and neutral face images and concurrent task-irrelevant central and peripheral probes. The results indicate that young and older have similarities and differences in their processing of emotional expressions. Both groups exhibit enhanced processing of all emotional facial expressions. This suggests that there is neither a negativity bias nor positivity effect in processing task-relevant emotional facial expressions. Instead, both young and older adults enhance processing of all emotional expressions compared to neutral expressions and therefore exhibit an emotional bias. Young and older adults differ in how the emotional faces affect processing of concurrent stimuli. Emotion enhanced processing of concurrent stimuli presented in other areas of the visual field only for the young adults.