Positive Emotion in Language Production: Age Differences in Emotional Valence of Stories Elise Rosa and Deborah Burke Pomona College. Method- Experiment 2 Participants 16 college student ( M = 18.69 years, 8 men and 8 women) and 16 healthy older adults ( M = 72.87 years, 11 women and 5 men).
Positive Emotion in Language Production: Age Differences in Emotional Valence of StoriesElise Rosa and Deborah BurkePomona College
Method- Experiment 2
Results- Experiment 2
Figure 3: Mean positive and negative emotion ratings
Conclusions- Experiment 2
Charles, S.T., Reynolds, C.A., & Gatz, M. (2001). Age-related differences and change in positive and negative
affect over twenty-three years. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 136-151.
James, L.E., Burke, D.M., Austin, A., & Hulme, E. (1998). Production and perception of "verbosity" in younger and
older adults. Psychology and Aging, 13, 355-367.Mather, M. & Carstensen, L.L. (2005). Aging and motivated cognition: The positivity effect in attention and memory.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9 (October): 496-502.
Mroczek, D.K. & Kolarz, C.M. (1998). The effect of age on positive and negative affect: A developmental
perspective on happiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1333-1349.
Pasupathi, M., Henry, R. & Carstensen, L.L. (2002). Age and ethnicity differences in storytelling to young children:
Emotionality, relationality and socialization. Psychology and Aging, 17, 610-621.
Pennebaker, J.W., Booth, R. J., Francis, M. E. (2001). LIWC [computer software].
Older adults report increased feelings of well-being, greater contentment and less anxiety in their daily lives compared to young adults (Charles, Reynolds, and Gatz, 2001; Mroczek & Kolarz, 1998). Socioemotional selectivity theory proposes that emotional gratification becomes more important towards the end of the life span and accordingly older adults tend to emphasize positive rather than negative emotions compared to young adults (e.g., Mather & Carstensen, 2005). Within this framework, older adults’ emotional goals shape cognitive processes so that they maximize meaningful emotional experience. The proposed positivity bias in cognitive processing has been supported in some studies of attention and memory performance, but there has been little investigation of an age-related positivity bias in language production.
The present study investigates language production in the form of story telling because stories provide an opportunity to express emotional goals. Indeed, James, Burke, Austen & Hulme (1998) found that older adults’ autobiographical stories were rated as more interesting than young adults’ and were distinguished by their emphasis on finding meaning in events. Pasupathi, Henry and Carstensen (2002) reported that older adults’ stories for children used fewer negative words than younger adults’ although there were no age differences in the use of positive emotion words. The present research investigates younger and older adults’ production of positive and negative emotion words in their stories about neutral picture stimuli.
Method- Experiment 1
What is happening?
Who are the people?
What has led up to this situation?
What are the feelings of the person or people?
Results- Experiment 1
Figure 1: Mean percentage positive emotion words
Error bars = 1 standard deviation
Figure 2: Mean percentage negative emotion words
Error bars = 1 standard deviation
Conclusions- Experiment 1