Preference to save the best for last fades with age, study finds
Will you save the best chocolate in the box until last? Do you want the good news first or the bad? Your preferences may depend on your age, reports a Cornell study published in Psychology and Aging.
In a series of experiments, younger adults preferred to get aversive experiences out of the way and save the most positive ones for last, confirming prior research. However, preferences for the timing of emotional experiences differed by age. Older adults would rather intersperse the good with the bad, and this may have implications for financial planning, medical choices and work life, the authors say.
"Our research is the first to systematically examine age differences in preferences for emotional sequences," said Corinna Loeckenhoff, assistant professor of human development in Cornell's College of Human Ecology, who authored the study with former students Andrew Reed, Ph.D. '11, and Skye Maresca '11.
"Much of the prior research on aging and decision-making has focused on isolated events, but we tried to approximate real-life settings where people encounter extended sequences of experiences," said Loeckenhoff.
The team conducted two studies, each with about 90 adults, spanning different ages. Participants were asked to view a series of photos with positive, negative or neutral content, and they could choose the sequence in which they would see them. As expected, younger adults showed a preference for sequences that began with the negative photos and ended with the positive ones. However, this tendency faded with age, with the oldest participants preferring "flat" sequences, where different types of photos were more evenly interspersed.
"The findings have potential implications for real-life settings," Loeckenhoff said. "The construction of advantageous sequences is critical for a variety of life domains such as financial planning, sustained performance in work settings, and the management of health conditions," Loeckenhoff added. "Such decisions are particularly relevant for older people because limited physical and cognitive resources may make it more difficult for them to recover from repeated negative experiences and poor choices."
More research is needed to understand the mechanisms that drive such effects, but Loeckenhoff and colleagues found some hints that age differences in future time horizons may play a role. Participants' preferences for specific sequences were associated with their self-reported time perspectives. Those with expansive horizons (typically seen in younger adults) were more likely to save the best for last, whereas those with limited horizons (typically seen in old age) opted for balanced sequences. To some extent, older adults may be following the adage "life is short, eat dessert first."
In future work, the authors hope to examine sequences of events that occur over longer time frames ranging from weeks to months. The research was supported in part by Cornell's Department of Human Development and the Lois and Mel Tukman Endowment.
More information: Psychology and Aging (Vol. 27:4).
Journal reference: Psychology and Aging
Provided by Cornell University
- Study: Older adults more willing to wait for gains Jul 19, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Why do older adults display more positive emotion? It might have to do with what they're looking at Aug 08, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Caregiver personality traits can affect health Feb 14, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Youth adapt faster than seniors to unexpected events Jan 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Getting older provides positive outlook Mar 22, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Patients with treatment-resistant major depression saw dramatic improvement in their illness after treatment with ketamine, an anesthetic, according to the largest ketamine clinical trial to-date led by researchers from the ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 5 hours ago | 4.5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
The latest makeover to a massive psychiatric tome honored by some, reviled by others and even called the "Bible" of mental disorders is being released Saturday with a host of new changes.
Psychology & Psychiatry 17 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Most Medicare beneficiaries treated in inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPFs) exhibit characteristics associated with hospital readmission, according to a report prepared for the National Association ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Skydivers show the same level of physical stress before every jump whether a first-timer or experienced jumper, say Northumbria researchers.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Children of depressed parents pick up on their parents' sadness—whether mom or dad realizes their mood or not.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (2) | 1 |
Regular consumption of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), an autoimmune liver disease, Mayo Clinic research shows. The findings were being presented at the Digestive Disease ...
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) explores new methods for managing digestive health through diet and lifestyle.
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
The use of a smartphone application significantly improves patients' preparation for a colonoscopy, according to new research presented today at Digestive Disease Week (DDW). The preparation process, which begins days in ...
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
There are significant cost and risk factors associated with two procedures commonly used to diagnose or treat gastrointestinal problems, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
An increasing number of U.S. children are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that require interventions to resolve, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
19 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.
17 hours ago | not rated yet | 0