Age-Related Differences in Negative Emotion Identification: The Effects of Cognitive Ability, Emotional Intelligence and Personality.
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The ability to successfully function within our social environment is dependent on the ability to produce, comprehend and respond to varying social signals. This is particularly important when responding to emotional stimuli. Past studies have demonstrated that increasing age is coupled with a decrease in the ability to recognise emotions - particularly negative emotions. Presently, there is a lack of evidence concerning emotional stimuli integration throughout healthy adult ageing. The current study aimed to examine the differences between younger and older adults’ performance accuracy in identifying specific negative emotions within and between unimodal and multimodal emotion recognition conditions in relation to cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, and personality. Within this study, 30 younger (18 – 29 years) and 30 older (60 – 85 years) adults recognition of four basic negative emotions in three unimodal, and one multimodal stimuli presentation conditions was investigated. It was found that younger adults outperformed older adults across the four presentation conditions. An age effect was present across both unimodal and multimodal conditions. Younger adults responded more accurately to angry, fearful and neutral displays of emotion in both unimodal and multimodal conditions. No age effect was present in the recognition of sadness from the multimodal condition. Individual factors were investigated to determine whether or not general cognitive ability; emotional intelligence; or personality contributed to the ability to accurately identify negative emotions. It was found that cognitive ability correlates highly with overall performance accuracy on emotion identification within both unimodal and multimodal stimuli conditions and across s specific emotions. A positive relationship between emotional intelligence and percentage accuracy in emotion identification was found in facial expression and multimodal conditions. Of the five factor model personality traits, it was found that extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness correlated with varying modalities and emotions.