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Positive EmotionIntegrating the Light Sides and Dark Sides$
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June Gruber and Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926725

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926725.001.0001

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Older and Happier?

Older and Happier?

Age-related Effects on Positive Emotion

(p.246) Chapter 14 Older and Happier?
Positive Emotion

Monika Lohani

Mary Jo Larcom

Derek M. Isaacowitz

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, we consider the degree to which advancing age brings with it an increase in positive emotion. After reviewing descriptive findings from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies concerning age differences in positive (as well as negative) affect, we consider possible mechanisms that could underlie age-related differences in positive emotion. Possible explanations range from age-related change in neural functioning to motivational changes due to limited time perspective that are associated with enhanced emotion regulation. We also consider possible boundary conditions and internal characteristics such as individual differences in cognitive abilities, affect-relevant state and trait factors, and approaches to and beliefs about emotion regulation. We further consider the role that external factors such as social and emotional stressors may play in affective outcomes. Finally, we note possible trade-offs that may be associated with age-related changes in the experience and processing of positive emotion, such as whether age-related attempts to optimize positive emotions might interfere with social perception and decision-making related to health information. We conclude with caveats of the current research and future directions for investigating whether and how becoming older relates to becoming happier.

Keywords:   aging, positive affect, happiness, decision-making

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