The role of dispositional reappraisal in the age-related positivity effect

Tianyuan LI, Helene H. FUNG, Derek M. ISAACOWITZ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. This study aimed to clarify mixed findings about whether older adults have a cognitive bias toward positive and/or away from negative information (the positivity effect) by examining whether dispositional cognitive reappraisal (a disposition to reinterpret an event to lessen its negative emotional impact) could moderate this effect.
Methods. Participants from 19 to 79 years old watched a video that simultaneously showed a positive and a negative image. Two layers of their emotion regulation process, attention (measured by percent fixation duration) and cognitive effort (measured by pupil dilation), toward each image were recorded. One dispositional emotion regulation strategy, dispositional cognitive reappraisal, was also assessed.
Results. In general, older age was related to less percent fixation duration but not to differential pupil dilation toward the negative image. However, among those with higher dispositional cognitive reappraisal, older age was related to smaller pupil dilation for the negative image.
Discussion. Findings suggest that whether the age-related positivity effect occurs depends on the matching between cognitive processes and dispositional emotion regulation strategies. Copyright © 2010 The Author . 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-60
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


Li, T., Fung, H. H., & Isaacowitz, D. M. (2011). The role of dispositional reappraisal in the age-related positivity effect. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 66B(1), 56-60. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbq074


  • Emotion regulation
  • Eye tracking
  • Fixation duration
  • Positivity effect
  • Pupil dilation
  • Reappraisal

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