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Emotion regulation across the lifespan: age differences in intrapersonal and interpersonal strategies for the adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic in four countries


Dworakowski, Olenka; Huber, Zilla M; Meier, Tabea; Boyd, Ryan L; Horn, Andrea B (2021). Emotion regulation across the lifespan: age differences in intrapersonal and interpersonal strategies for the adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic in four countries. Aging & Mental Health:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Studies have shown age differences in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. The processes explaining these age differences remain unclear. Intrapersonal and interpersonal emotion regulation play an important role in psycho-social adjustment and develop across the lifespan. This study investigated whether differences in COVID-19-related adjustment disorder symptoms can be explained by age-differences in rumination in a multi-national sample. Furthermore, linguistic indicators of ruminative processing were examined with reference to age.

METHODS: N = 1401 participants (from USA, UK, Switzerland, Germany, aged 18-88) completed an online survey and a writing task. Measures included brooding, co-brooding, adjustment disorder symptoms, and language indicators of negative self- and communal-focus.

RESULTS: Older participants reported less adjustment disorder symptoms which was mediated by less (co-)brooding. Participants reporting more (co-)brooding wrote about COVID-19 more negatively. While in younger adults more self-focus was associated with higher ruminative brooding, in older adults it was associated with less brooding.

CONCLUSION: These findings contribute to a better understanding of regulatory mechanisms that help explain age differences in mental health. They warrant further research considering age-related differences, as our results suggest not only more adaptive emotion regulation as resilience factor in older individuals but also different qualities of self-focus while processing stressful events.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Studies have shown age differences in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. The processes explaining these age differences remain unclear. Intrapersonal and interpersonal emotion regulation play an important role in psycho-social adjustment and develop across the lifespan. This study investigated whether differences in COVID-19-related adjustment disorder symptoms can be explained by age-differences in rumination in a multi-national sample. Furthermore, linguistic indicators of ruminative processing were examined with reference to age.

METHODS: N = 1401 participants (from USA, UK, Switzerland, Germany, aged 18-88) completed an online survey and a writing task. Measures included brooding, co-brooding, adjustment disorder symptoms, and language indicators of negative self- and communal-focus.

RESULTS: Older participants reported less adjustment disorder symptoms which was mediated by less (co-)brooding. Participants reporting more (co-)brooding wrote about COVID-19 more negatively. While in younger adults more self-focus was associated with higher ruminative brooding, in older adults it was associated with less brooding.

CONCLUSION: These findings contribute to a better understanding of regulatory mechanisms that help explain age differences in mental health. They warrant further research considering age-related differences, as our results suggest not only more adaptive emotion regulation as resilience factor in older individuals but also different qualities of self-focus while processing stressful events.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Center for Gerontology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Psychiatric Mental Health
Health Sciences > Gerontology
Health Sciences > Geriatrics and Gerontology
Health Sciences > Psychiatry and Mental Health
Language:English
Date:11 September 2021
Deposited On:16 Sep 2021 08:13
Last Modified:17 Sep 2021 20:00
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1360-7863
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2021.1972933
PubMed ID:34514919

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