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Cultural differences in the age-related positivity effect: Distinguishing between preference and effectiveness


Fung, Helene H; Gong, Xianmin; Ngo, Nhi; Isaacowitz, Derek M (2018). Cultural differences in the age-related positivity effect: Distinguishing between preference and effectiveness. Emotion:ePub ahead of print.

Abstract

Prior studies have found mixed results regarding whether there are cultural differences in the age-related positivity effect, defined as older adults showing a greater bias in cognitive processing for positively over negatively and neutrally valenced information relative to younger adults. This study attempted to address this controversy by examining visual attention toward culturally relevant versus irrelevant pictures that differed in valence among younger and older US Americans and Hong Kong Chinese. Preferences (attentional biases toward particular valence) and effectiveness (whether the attentional biases are associated with better mood) were also distinguished. Findings revealed that regardless of cultural relevance of the pictures, older US Americans showed more gaze preference for positive over negative pictures compared to younger adults; this age difference was not found among Hong Kong Chinese. In contrast, older Hong Kong Chinese showed better mood as a function of more gaze preference for positive over negative pictures. Younger Hong Kong Chinese, and younger and older US Americans did not show this association. The results suggest that an age-related positivity effect exists at the preference level for US Americans, but at the effectiveness level for Chinese.

Abstract

Prior studies have found mixed results regarding whether there are cultural differences in the age-related positivity effect, defined as older adults showing a greater bias in cognitive processing for positively over negatively and neutrally valenced information relative to younger adults. This study attempted to address this controversy by examining visual attention toward culturally relevant versus irrelevant pictures that differed in valence among younger and older US Americans and Hong Kong Chinese. Preferences (attentional biases toward particular valence) and effectiveness (whether the attentional biases are associated with better mood) were also distinguished. Findings revealed that regardless of cultural relevance of the pictures, older US Americans showed more gaze preference for positive over negative pictures compared to younger adults; this age difference was not found among Hong Kong Chinese. In contrast, older Hong Kong Chinese showed better mood as a function of more gaze preference for positive over negative pictures. Younger Hong Kong Chinese, and younger and older US Americans did not show this association. The results suggest that an age-related positivity effect exists at the preference level for US Americans, but at the effectiveness level for Chinese.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Psychology
Language:English
Date:26 November 2018
Deposited On:09 Jan 2019 15:45
Last Modified:09 Jan 2019 15:45
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:1528-3542
Additional Information:This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000529
PubMed ID:30475027

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