Attention to Emotional Stimuli Across Adulthood and Older Age: A Novel Application of Eye-Tracking Within the Home

Marissa A. DiGirolamo*, Elizabeth C. McCall, Nermin Kibrislioglu Uysal, Yuen Wan Ho, Majse Lind, Derek M. Isaacowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous research has used stationary eye-tracking in the lab to examine age differences in attentional deployment, showing that older adults display gaze patterns toward positive stimuli. This positive gaze preference sometimes improves older adults’ mood compared to their younger counterparts. However, the lab environment may lead to different emotion regulation behavior among older adults compared to what they do in their everyday life. We, therefore, present the first use of stationary eye-tracking within participants’ homes to examine gaze patterns toward video clips of varying valence and to study age differences in emotional attention among younger, middle-aged, and older adults in a more naturalistic environment.We also compared these results to in-lab gaze preferences among the same participants. Older adults deployed attention more to positive stimuli in the lab but more to negative stimuli in the home. This increased attention to negative content in the home predicted higher self-reported arousal outcomes among middle-aged and older adults. Gaze preferences toward emotional stimuli may thus differ depending on the context, emphasizing the need to explore more naturalistic settings within emotion regulation and aging research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume152
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1439-1453
Number of pages15
ISSN0096-3445
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from Velux Stiftung. The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • aging
  • attentional deployment
  • emotional attention
  • eye-tracking

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