Do Differences in Personality and Emotional Intelligence Affect The Ability to Recognize Negative Emotions in Cognitive Ageing?
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Experimental evidence suggests that the ability to accurately identify emotional expressions diminishes with age. Older adults have a particular deficit in recognizing negative emotions. However, emotion recognition is somewhat preserved when emotion is expressed through more than one sensory modality. This study compared 29 younger (18 – 29 years) and 30 older adults’ (60 – 85 years) ability to identify emotions of a negative affect (angry, fearful, sad) in faces, voices and bodies in a forced-choice recognition task. In addition, performance on these uni-modal tasks was compared to recognition when the emotions were displayed multi-modally. Accuracy improved in the multi-modal condition and body posture was also significantly accurately recognized in younger adults. However, older adults scored significantly more poorly than younger adults across all recognition tasks and across all emotional expressions, excluding sadness. Extraversion and Openness to Experience were significantly related to accuracy in emotion recognition. Older adults scored lower in both these personality traits suggesting emotion recognitions may be related to personality change over the lifespan. Emotion recognition deficits are discussed in relation to previous findings that have associated emotion recognition impairments in older adults to the social, emotional and neurological change in cognitive ageing.