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Emotion. 2011 Feb;11(1):90-100. doi: 10.1037/a0021551.

The malleability of age-related positive gaze preferences: training to change gaze and mood.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA. dmi@brandeis.edu


Older adults show positive gaze preferences, but to what extent are these preferences malleable? Examining the plasticity of age-related gaze preferences may provide a window into their origins. We therefore designed an attentional training procedure to assess the degree to which we could shift gaze and gaze-related mood in both younger and older adults. Participants completed either a positive or negative dot-probe training. Before and after the attentional training, we obtained measures of fixations to negatively valenced images along with concurrent mood ratings. We found differential malleability of gaze and mood by age: for young adults, negative training resulted in fewer posttraining fixations to the most negative areas of the images, whereas positive training appeared more successful in changing older adults' fixation patterns. Young adults did not differ in their moods as a function of training, whereas older adults in the train negative group had the worst moods after training. Implications for the etiology of age-related positive gaze preferences are considered.

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

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