Effects of Age on Emotion Recognition from Facial Expressions and Gait Information in Healthy Younger and Older Adults
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Effective interpretation of social situations relies on the combination of emotional information from multiple sources. It is evident that older adults find the identification of emotions from facial expressions more difficult than younger adults, which could be explained by different theories such as positivity effects, cognitive decline, and neuropsychological differences in the brain. However, minimal research has been conducted on the influence of healthy adult aging from multimodal emotional information. Hunter et al., (2010) revealed that older adults benefit from the presentation of congruent, cross-modal emotional information. The current study aims to develop this finding by looking at age effects in cross-modal emotion recognition from facial expressions and gait information (Montepare, 1987). The study consisted of 37 adults, 19 young and 18 old and compared their abilities on emotion identification through the presentation of two unimodal conditions (facial expressions and gait information) and a cross-modal condition comprising of both modalities. The results indicated that older adults did not differ from younger adults in their ability to identify emotions from faces however they differed when identifying emotions from gait information. Furthermore, it is clear from the results that older adults benefit from the presentation of congruent cross-modal information but are impaired when identifying emotions from incongruent information.