Emotion Recognition Ability in Older Adults

DIMELOW, Nicola Anne (2018). Emotion Recognition Ability in Older Adults. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00199


This thesis investigated the extent of age-related emotion recognition deficits across several emotions, presentations, and stimuli types. Evidence suggests that older adults (OAs) are less able than younger adults (YAs) to recognise emotions (Ruffman et al., 2008). However, clarity regarding the breadth of these age-related emotion recognition deficits may be thwarted by difficulties in comparing findings due to methodological variations and sample differences. The current research sought to address some of these issues by comparing the emotion recognition ability of OAs (59 to 84 years) to those of YAs (18 to 29 years). Phase 1 of the research used a series of tightly controlled experiments to measure emotion recognition (for happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust) and non-emotion processing from static faces, non-verbal vocalisations, and single words. Phase 2 employed unimodal and cross-modal presentations of dynamic faces and prosodic sentences to measure recognition of the same basic emotions as well as a different set of discrete emotions (joy, amusement, pride, anger, and surprise). In terms of deficits the only emotion for which OAs showed a consistent impairment was anger as seen when static faces were used, when all presentation types were compared in Phase 1 and in one experiment in Phase 2. Moreover there is evidence to suggest that this deficit for anger is a specific function of the older-older (70 years+) adults' performance. OAs were also impaired in recognising joy from prosodic sentences and older-older adults in recognising sad from faces. More generally OAs had a deficit in processing auditory information and older-old adults in processing static faces irrespective of the emotion content. In contrast, OAs showed a superior ability than YAs to recognise emotion from words (particularly sad) and disgust when all presentation types were compared in Phase 1. It is concluded, therefore, that OAs' emotion recognition deficits are not as widespread as previously reported and in many cases performance is maintained and even improves in later years.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Morgan, Jane
Additional Information: Director of studies: Jane Morgan "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00199
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2019 09:04
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 13:46
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/24946

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