Subjective age and emotion covariation: Findings from two daily experience studies

Amit Shrira, Dikla Segel-Karpas, Ehud Bodner, Yuval Palgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: This article focuses on an aspect of emotional complexity as seen in the covariation between positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA). Lifespan theories predict distinctive patterns of change in emotion covariation with chronological age. Nevertheless, research shows mixed evidence with most studies failing to find a significant connection between chronological age and emotion covariation. We propose to look beyond chronological age and assess the relationship between subjective age and emotion covariation. Subjective age refers to how old one perceives oneself to be, and therefore may be more pertinent to one's emotional experience than chronological age. We further explored whether the relationship between subjective age and emotion covariation is modified by chronological age. Method: We used data from 2 daily diary study samples (N = 188, mean age = 57.84, range = 29-100, and N = 334, mean age = 58.15, range = 30-90). Results: Multilevel models showed that individuals who perceived themselves as older showed stronger inverse PA-NA relationship, reflecting lower emotional complexity. Chronological age (net of subjective age) and emotion covariation were unrelated in both samples. Moreover, in Study 2 there was a 3-way interaction between PA, subjective age and chronological age, suggesting that subjective age is more strongly related to emotion covariation among older adults than among younger adults. Discussion: The relationship between subjective age and emotion covariation is discussed in light of lifespan theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1000
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume75
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 16 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Emotion covariation
  • Emotional complexity
  • Negative affect
  • Old age
  • Positive affect
  • Subjective age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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