Do We Love Our Families More As We Age?

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The current study examined age differences in the intensity of emotions experienced during social interactions. Because emotions are felt most intensely in situations central to motivational goals, age differences in emotional intensity may exist in social situations that meet the goals for one age group more than the other. Guided by theories of emotional intensity and socioemotional selectivity, it was hypothesized that social partner type would elicit different affective responses by age. Younger (n = 71) and older (n = 71) adults recalled experiences of positive and negative emotions with new friends, established friends, and family members from the prior week. Compared with younger adults, older adults reported lower intensity positive emotions with new friends, similarly intense positive emotions with established friends, and higher intensity positive emotions with family members. Older adults reported lower intensity negative emotions for all social partners than did younger adults, but this difference was most pronounced for interactions with new friends.

Source: “Memories of social interactions: Age differences in emotional intensity.” from Psychology and Aging, Vol 22(2), Jun 2007, 300-309

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