carstensen_mikels_2005 - CURRENT DI RE CTIONS IN PSYCHO...

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At the Intersection of Emotion and Cognition Aging and the Positivity Effect Laura L. Carstensen and Joseph A. Mikels Stanford University ABSTRACT— Divergent trajectories characterize the aging mind: Processing capacity declines, while judgment, knowl- edge,andemotionregulationarerelativelyspared.Wemain- tain that these different developmental trajectories have implications for emotion–cognition interactions. Following an overview of our theoretical position, we review empirical studies indicating that (a) older adults evidence superior cognitive performance for emotional relative to non-emo- tional information, (b) age differences are most evident when the emotional content is positively as opposed to negatively valenced, and (c) differences can be accounted for by changes in motivation posited in socioemotional se- lectivity theory. KEYWORDS— aging; emotion; cognition; memory; attention One of the most interesting discoveries in basic social science in recentyearsisthathumanaging,longthoughttobecharacterized by intractable and steady decline, is a more complex and more malleable process than was initially presumed. Arguably even more interesting than the weaknesses are the relative strengths thatolderpeopledisplay,makingclearthepotentialresourcethat thegrowingolderpopulationoffers.Findingsprovideremarkably convergentevidencethatself-regulation,especiallyofemotional functioning, is spared from age-related decline, if not enhanced This pattern stands in contrast to the one characterizing many aspects of cognitive aging. A substantial body of literature doc- uments age-related declines in abilities and processes that are effortful, deliberative, and resource-intensive. Processing speed declines with age, as do working memory (the short-term main- tenance and manipulation of information), free and cued recall from long-term memory, source memory (memory for the source orcontextofinformationratherthantheinformationitself),selec- tive attention, effortful divided attention, mental imagery, as well as reasoning and problem solving. The fact that gains in emo- tional functioning occur against a backdrop of well-documented declines in effortful cognitive processing raises intriguing questions about potential developmental changes in domains that draw heavily on both emotional and cognitive processes. In fact, these opposing trajectories map perfectly onto the two core sets of strategies centrally involved in decision and judgment: intuition, which involves relatively fast automatic processing that often draws on emotion; and deliberative reasoning, which is relatively slow, controlled, and effortful (Kahneman, 2003). Given the critical role that these strategies play in daily life, age-
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carstensen_mikels_2005 - CURRENT DI RE CTIONS IN PSYCHO...

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