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Socioemotional selectivity in older adults: Evidence from the subjective experience of angry memories

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Few studies have compared the phenomenological properties of younger and older adults' memories for emotional events. Some studies suggest that younger adults remember negative information more vividly than positive information whereas other studies suggest that positive emotion yields phenomenologically richer memories than negative emotion for both younger and older adults. One problem with previous studies is a tendency to treat emotion as a dichotomous variable. In contrast, emotional richness demands inclusion of assessments beyond just a positive and negative dimension (e.g., assessing specific emotions like anger, fear and happiness). The present study investigated different properties of autobiographical remembering as a function of discrete emotions and age. Thirty-two younger and thirty-one older adults participated by recalling recent and remote memories associated with six emotional categories and completed the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire for each. Results demonstrated that older adults' angry memories received lower ratings on some phenomenological properties than other emotional memories whereas younger adults' angry memories did not show this same pattern. These results are discussed within the context of socioemotional selectivity theory.
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Keywords: Autobiographical memory; Discrete emotions; Phenomenology of autobiographical memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Ipek University, Ankara, Turkey 2: Department of Psychology, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey

Publication date: August 18, 2015

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