Eva-Marie Kessler and Ursula M. Staudinger

Psychology and Aging, 2009


The aim of the present study was to investigate age-related differences in self-reported affect in adulthood. Measurement of affect encompassed high- and low-arousal positive and negative affect. The sample consisted of 277 participants who were between 20 and 80 years old. Older participants showed a higher level of low-arousal positive affect and did not significantly differ from the two younger age groups in high-arousal positive affect. Both high- and low-arousal negative affect decreased from middle to older adulthood. Only partially are these age effects explained by sociodemographic characteristics, education, or self-reported health and personality. The perceived regulation of affect in the face of difficulties or threatening situations emerged as a central mediator in the association between age and the three age-graded facets of affect. In contrast, future time perspective had no mediating effect on the age–affect relationship. Results suggest that age-related advantages in perceived affect regulation seem to be one central component of resilience in old age.