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Psychol Sci. 2007 Sep;18(9):838-43.

Looking at the sunny side of life: age-related change in an event-related potential measure of the negativity bias.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7150, USA.


Studies of the negativity bias have demonstrated that negative information has a stronger influence than positive information in a wide range of cognitive domains. At odds with this literature is extensive work now documenting emotional and motivational shifts that result in a positivity effect in older adults. It remains unclear, however, whether this age-related positivity effect results from increases in processing of positive information or from decreases in processing of negative information. Also unknown is the specific time course of development from a negative bias to an apparently positive one. The present study was designed to investigate the negativity bias across the life span using an event-related potential measure of responding to emotionally valenced images. The results suggest that neural reactivity to negative images declines linearly with age, but responding to positive images is surprisingly age invariant across most of the adult life span.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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