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  Positivity in younger and in older age: Associations with future time perspective and socioemotional functioning

Erbey, M., Röbbig, J., Babayan, A., Kumral, D., Reinelt, J., Reiter, A., et al. (2020). Positivity in younger and in older age: Associations with future time perspective and socioemotional functioning. Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 567133. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567133.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-B44D-8 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-B44E-7
Genre: Journal Article


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Erbey, Miray1, 2, 3, Author              
Röbbig, Josefin1, Author              
Babayan, Anahit1, Author              
Kumral, Deniz1, 2, Author              
Reinelt, Janis1, Author              
Reiter, Andrea4, Author              
Schaare, Herma Lina1, 5, Author              
Uhlig, Marie1, 5, Author              
Nierhaus, Till1, 6, Author              
Van der Meer, Elke7, Author
Gaebler, Michael1, 2, Author              
Villringer, Arno1, 2, 8, Author              
1Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634549              
2MindBrainBody Institute, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, ou_persistent22              
3International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany, ou_persistent22              
4Lifespan Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Biological Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, TU Dresden, Germany, ou_persistent22              
5International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication: Function, Structure, and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, Leipzig, DE, ou_2616696              
6Department of Education and Psychology, FU Berlin, Germany, ou_persistent22              
7Institute of Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, ou_persistent22              
8Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              


Free keywords: Positivity effect; Positivity bias; Socioemotional selectivity theory; Future time perspective; Well-being; Aging; Socioemotional functioning; Worry
 Abstract: Aging has been associated with a motivational shift to positive over negative information (i.e., positivity effect), which is often explained by a limited future time perspective (FTP) within the framework of socioemotional selectivity theory (SST). However, whether a limited FTP functions similarly in younger and older adults, and whether inter-individual differences in socioemotional functioning are similarly associated with preference for positive information (i.e., positivity) is still not clear. We investigated younger (20–35 years, N = 73) and older (60–75 years, N = 56) adults’ gaze preferences on pairs of happy, angry, sad, and neutral faces using an eye-tracking system. We additionally assessed several parameters potentially underlying inter-individual differences in emotion processing such as FTP, stress, cognitive functioning, social support, emotion regulation, and well-being. While we found no age-related differences in positivity when the entire trial duration was considered, older adults showed longer fixations on the more positive face in later stages of processing (i.e., positivity shifts). This allocation of resources toward more positive stimuli might serve an emotion regulatory purpose and seems consistent with the SST. However, our findings suggest that age moderates the relationship between FTP and positivity shifts, such that the relationship between FTP and positivity preferences was negative in older, and positive in younger adults, potentially stemming from an age-related differential meaning of the FTP construct across age. Furthermore, our exploratory analyses showed that along with the age and FTP interaction, lower levels of worry also played a significant role in positivity shifts. We conclude that positivity effects cannot be solely explained by aging, or the associated reduced FTP per se, but is rather determined by a complex interplay of psychosocial and emotional features.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2020-11-17
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567133
Other: eCollection 2020
PMID: 33281667
PMC: PMC7705101
 Degree: -



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Title: Frontiers in Psychology
  Abbreviation : Front Psychol
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: Pully, Switzerland : Frontiers Research Foundation
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 11 Sequence Number: 567133 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 1664-1078
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/1664-1078