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Dev Psychol. 2011 Mar;47(2):318-30. doi: 10.1037/a0021023.

Age-related differences in profiles of mood-change trajectories.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Volen National Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, MA, USA.


As a group, older adults report positive affective lives. The extent to which there are subgroups of older adults whose moods are less positive, however, is unclear. Our aim in the present study was to identify and characterize different subgroups of adults who exhibit distinct trajectories of mood change across a relatively short time period. Seventy-nine young and 103 older adults continuously reported their moods while viewing emotional and neutral faces. Cluster analysis revealed four subgroups of mood-change trajectories. Both the most positive and the most negative subgroups included more older than young adults (ps < .05), suggesting that not all older adults exhibit higher positive affect than young adults. Analyses of variance revealed that the most negative group exhibited slower processing speed, more state anxiety and neuroticism, and looked less at happy faces than the other groups (ps < .05). The results are discussed from an adult developmental perspective, focusing on the increased variability of mood trajectories in the older adults and whether this is a reflection of adaptive functioning or a potential harbinger of dysfunction.

PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved.

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