Research on age differences in the experience of negative emotional states have produced inconsistent results, particularly when emotion is examined in the context of daily stress. Strength and vulnerability integration (SAVI; Charles, 2010) theory postulates that age differences in emotional states are contingent upon whether a stressor occurred, and whether sufficient time has passed since the stressor to allow older adults to benefit from theorized strengths. The present study uses an ecological momentary assessment design to examine how timing of daily stressors relates to age differences in negative emotional responses. Participants (N = 199, aged 25-65) completed mobile surveys up to 5 times daily for 14 days. They reported current mood and stressor exposure, as well as how long ago the stressor occurred. As expected, no age differences were observed in current negative affect (NA) for stressors which occurred in the previous 0-10 min. As predicted, older age was associated with less of a stressor-related increase in NA when a greater time had passed (i.e., 10 min to 2.5 hours) since stressor exposure. Consistent with previous results, there were no age differences in the effects of more distal stressors that occurred 2.5 to 5 hr ago, although NA remained significantly elevated. The present findings are consistent with SAVI's predictions and advance understanding age differences in the time course relating everyday stressors to emotional responses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies