Psychology Faculty Research


Caring More and Knowing More Reduces Age-Related Differences in Emotion Perception.

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Publication Date

Summer 6-2015


Traditional emotion perception tasks show that older adults are less accurate than are young adults at recognizing facial expressions of emotion. Recently, we proposed that socioemotional factors might explain why older adults seem impaired in lab tasks but less so in everyday life (Isaacowitz & Stanley, 2011). Thus, in the present research we empirically tested whether socioemotional factors such as motivation and familiarity can alter this pattern of age effects. In 1 task, accountability instructions eliminated age differences in the traditional emotion perception task. Using a novel emotion perception paradigm featuring spontaneous dynamic facial expressions of a familiar romantic partner versus a same-age stranger, we found that age differences in emotion perception accuracy were attenuated in the familiar partner condition, relative to the stranger condition. Taken together, the results suggest that both overall accuracy as well as specific patterns of age effects differ appreciably between traditional emotion perception tasks and emotion perception within a socioemotional context.

Publication Title

Psychology and Aging





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