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Exp Aging Res. 2014;40(2):187-207. doi: 10.1080/0361073X.2014.882210.

Age- and gender-related variations of emotion recognition in pseudowords and faces.

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a Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics , University Hospital Aachen, RWTH Aachen University , Aachen , Germany.


BACKGROUND/STUDY CONTEXT: The ability to interpret emotionally salient stimuli is an important skill for successful social functioning at any age. The objective of the present study was to disentangle age and gender effects on emotion recognition ability in voices and faces.


Three age groups of participants (young, age range: 18-35 years; middle-aged, age range: 36-55 years; and older, age range: 56-75 years) identified basic emotions presented in voices and faces in a forced-choice paradigm. Five emotions (angry, fearful, sad, disgusted, and happy) and a nonemotional category (neutral) were shown as encoded in color photographs of facial expressions and pseudowords spoken in affective prosody.


Overall, older participants had a lower accuracy rate in categorizing emotions than young and middle-aged participants. Females performed better than males in recognizing emotions from voices, and this gender difference emerged in middle-aged and older participants. The performance of emotion recognition in faces was significantly correlated with the performance in voices.


The current study provides further evidence for a general age and gender effect on emotion recognition; the advantage of females seems to be age- and stimulus modality-dependent.

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