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Psychol Aging. 1995 Jun;10(2):173-80.

Age differences in problem-solving style: the role of emotional salience.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, USA.


Qualitative differences in problem-solving style for situations varying in emotional salience were examined among adolescents, young, middle-aged, and older adults. Participants wrote essays on how each of 15 problem situations should be resolved. There were minimal age differences for problem-focused strategies, with all age groups using this strategy the most. Age differences for problem-solving strategy were highly dependent on the degree to which the situation was emotionally salient. All individuals were more likely to use an avoidant-denial strategy in low emotionally salient situations and passive-dependent and cognitive-analysis strategies in high emotionally salient situations. However, older adults used both passive-dependent and avoidant-denial strategies more than younger age groups. Problem-focused strategies were used least in high emotionally salient situations. Implications of findings are discussed from an adult developmental perspective.

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