Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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Aging and Emotional Memory: The Forgettable Nature of Negative Images for Older Adults

Journal Article

ST Charles
MM Mather
Laura L. Carstensen - Stanford University

Published by
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 132 no. 2, page(s) 310-324
June 2003

Two studies examined age differences in recall and recognition memory for positive, negative, and neutral stimuli. In Study 1, younger, middle-aged, and older adults were shown images on a computer screen and, after a distraction task, were asked first to recall as many as they could and then to identify previously shown images from a set of old and new ones. The relative number of negative images compared with positive and neutral images recalled decreased with each successively older age group. Recognition memory showed a similar decrease with age in the relative memory advantage for negative pictures. In Study 2, the largest age differences in recall and recognition accuracy were also for the negative images. Findings are consistent with socioemotional selectivity theory, which posits greater investment in emotion regulation with age.

Topics: Aging | Investment