Affect Dynamics

Day-to-day emotional experiences differ between individuals from different age groups. Adolescence, for example, is typically characterized by relatively more emotional turmoil and a relatively higher prevalence of negative emotionality than adulthood, and older adults typically report higher emotional well-being in their daily lives than younger adult age groups. Little, however, is known about the psychological mechanisms underlying these age differences. Furthermore, other aspects of affective experiences, such as their outward expression or cross-cultural differences, have rarely been investigated from a developmental perspective. Our first research emphasis on affect dynamics involves projects that address these open questions.


Affective Competencies

Senior Couple
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A second research emphasis on affective competencies investigates age-related differences in the abilities to understand and manage emotional aspects of life, such as the abilities to regulate one's own affective experiences or to understand affective experiences of other people. Evidence suggests that the ability to understand other people's affective expressions declines throughout adulthood. This evidence stems primarily from studies that have asked participants to interpret posed emotional expressions from younger or middle-aged, but not older, adults. One limitation of these studies is thus the absence of age fairness. Another concern is the lack of ecological validity as the task is different from affect-recognition demands in regular life. Several of our ongoing projects seek to overcome these limitations.

Click the projects if you want to read more:

Recent publications

Rauers, A., Blanke, E., & Riediger, M. (2013). Everyday empathic accuracy in younger and older couples: Do you need to see your partner to know his or her feelings? Psychological Science, 24, 2210–2217. doi: 10.1177/0956797613490747

Riediger, M., & Klipker, K. (2014). Emotion regulation in adolescence. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation  (2nd ed., pp. 187–202). New York: Guilford Press.

Wrzus, C., Müller, V., Wagner, G. G., Lindenberger, U., & Riediger, M. (2013). Affective and cardiovascular responding to unpleasant events from adolescence to old age: Complexity of events matters. Developmental Psychology, 49, 384–397. doi:10.1037/a0028325