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Aging Ment Health. 2009 Nov;13(6):818-26. doi: 10.1080/13607860902989661.

Specificity of age differences in emotion regulation.

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Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College London, London, W1W 7EJ, United Kingdom.



The present study attempts to extend previous research examining differences between young and older adults in emotion regulation, by investigating age differences across a great range of facets of emotion regulation.


Young (n = 40) and older adults (n = 40) completed the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and self-report measures of anxiety and depression.


Whereas young and older adults did not differ in terms of acceptance and awareness of emotional responses, younger adults scored higher compared to older overall, indicating greater emotion regulation difficulties. Older adults reported greater ability in engaging in goal-directed behaviour, and refraining from impulsive emotional responses. Increasing age was associated with greater access to emotion regulation strategies and greater clarity of emotions.


Overall, the present cross-sectional results suggest a general stability in late adulthood in several aspects of emotion regulation, suggesting specific adaptations with increasing age. Findings provided support for the construct validity of the DERS and indicated that the relationship between age and emotion regulation is influenced by verbal ability. Current results extend the focus of age-related differences in emotion regulatory control to several theoretically defined forms of emotion regulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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