Emotion regulation skills appear to increase during adulthood. Older adults report fewer negative emotions than younger persons. Older adults report more emotional stability and well-being than younger persons. Older adult may be more savvy at navigating interpersonal disagreements than younger persons. Older adults may pay more attention to the good and less attention to the bad. When older adults experience a negative emotion, they may be able to recover more quickly than younger persons.
Thus, at first glance, there seems to be an emotional “mellowing out” with maturity and an increased and potentially deliberate ability to see the world through rose-colored glasses. Given these data, it is interesting to learn that older adults may react with stronger emotions than younger persons in some situations.
Indeed, bad events may hit older adults harder than younger persons. In studies in which researchers try to create a negative mood in their participants, older adults can react with stronger emotions than younger persons. This is particularly true if the investigators use negative stimuli that are relevant to older adults, such as stimuli about loss or injustice. In my research, we find that older adults react to films about loss with greater negativity than younger persons.