sullivan_in_press - You Never Lose Running head: AFFECTIVE...

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You Never Lose 1 Running head: AFFECTIVE PERSPECTIVE TAKING IN OLDER ADULTS You Never Lose the Ages You’ve Been: Affective Perspective Taking in Older Adults Sarah J. Sullivan 1 , Joseph A. Mikels 2 , Laura L. Carstensen 3 1. Department of Psychology, University of California Los Angeles 2. Department of Human Development, Cornell University 3. Department of Psychology, Stanford University Correspondence to: Sarah J. Sullivan Department of Psychology University of California, Los Angeles Franz Hall, Box 951563 Los Angeles, CA 90095 Phone: 310/910.8249 Fax: 310/825.2306 electronic mail: sarah.sullivan@ucla.edu
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You Never Lose 2 “One thing about getting old is that you never lose the ages you’ve been.” -Madeline L’Engle
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You Never Lose 3 Abstract Aging appears to be associated with a growing preference for positive over negative information (Carstensen, Mikels, 2006). In this study, we investigated potential awareness of the phenomenon by asking older people to recollect material from the perspective of a younger person. Younger and older participants listened to stories about 25 and 75-year-old protagonists, and then were asked to retell the stories from the perspective of the protagonists. Older adults used relatively more positive than negative words when retelling from the perspective of a 75 versus 25-year-old. Younger adults, however, used comparable numbers of positive and negative words regardless of perspective. These findings contribute to a growing literature that points to developmental gains in the emotion domain. key words: aging, positivity effect, perspective taking
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You Never Lose 4 You Never Lose the Ages You’ve Been: Affective Perspective Taking in Older Adults Empirical research suggests that a preference for positive emotional information may emerge with age (Charles, Mather, & Carstensen, 2003; Issacowitz, Wadlinger, Goren, & Wilson, 2006; Kennedy, Mather, & Carstensen, 2003; Mather & Carstensen, 2004; Mikels, Larkin, Reuter-Lorenz, & Cartensen, 2005; Schlagman, Schulz, & Kvavilashvili, 2006). This preference stands in contrast to findings from research that suggests that negative stimuli hold special attention-grabbing properties in younger adults (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Finkenauer, & Vohs, 2001; Cacioppo, Gardner, & Berntson, 1997; see also Wood & Kisley, 2006). This developmental shift has recently been coined the “positivity effect” and has been observed in autobiographical memory, long-term memory, working memory, and attention (for review see Carstensen, Mikels, & Mather, 2006). Although the phenomenon is evident in multiple domains, little is known about the causes of the shift. Does the shift reflect developmental changes rooted in motivation? Or could it be the serendipitous result of neural or cognitive decline? In this paper we explore whether older adults display an implicit awareness of an age-related preference for positive over negative information. To address this question, in the present study we asked younger and older adults to
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sullivan_in_press - You Never Lose Running head: AFFECTIVE...

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