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Emotion. 2003 Jun;3(2):115-26.

Age and gender differences in cardiac reactivity and subjective emotion responses to emotional autobiographical memories.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA. gvief@sun.science.wayne.edu


This research reports age and gender differences in cardiac reactivity and subjective responses to the induction of autobiographical memories related to anger, fear, sadness, and happiness. Heart rate (HR) and subjective state were assessed at baseline and after the induction of each emotion in 113 individuals (61 men, 52 women; 66% European American, 34% African American) ranging in age from 15 to 88 years (M = 50.0; SD = 20.2). Cardiac reactivity was lower in older individuals; however, for anger and fear, these age effects were significantly more pronounced for the women than the men. There were no gender differences in subjective responses, however, suggesting that the lower cardiac reactivity found among older people is dependent on gender and the specific emotion assessed.

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