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Aging Is Tonic For Life’s Stressful Emotions

womanA new study suggests aging brings a sense of peace and calm. This is good news for many given the host of stressors that appear to be part and parcel of a 21st century lifestyle.

According to researchers starting at about age 60, participants reported more feelings of ease and contentment than their younger counterparts.

Catherine Ross and John Mirowsky, professors of sociology at the University of Texas have published the findings in “Age and the Balance of Emotions” in the May issue of Social Science and Medicine.

The research was funded in part by the National Institute on Aging.

The findings reveal aging is associated with more positive than negative emotions, and more passive than active emotions, Ross said.

Previous research on emotions associated with aging focused on negative emotions, such as depression. However, a second dimension underlying emotions is an active versus passive dimension, which is less studied, but may be important in explaining how emotions shift as people age, according to the researchers.

“The passive/positive combination reveals that contentment, calm and ease are some of the most common emotions people feel as they age,” Ross said. “Emotions that are both active and negative, such as anxiety and anger, are especially unlikely among the elderly.”

The study examined 1,450 responses to the 1996 U.S. General Social Survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, which included English-speaking people aged 18 and older. The gender distribution of the sample was 56 percent female and 44 percent male, and the racial distribution was 81 percent white, 14 percent African American and 5 percent other races.

Participants responded to statements such as “On how many days in the past seven days have you…felt that you couldn’t shake the blues, felt sad, felt lonely, felt anxious and tense, felt worried, felt so restless that you couldn’t sit long in a chair, felt angry at someone, felt mad at someone, felt outraged at something somebody had done, felt calm, felt at ease, felt contented, felt happy, felt overjoyed by something, felt excited about or interested in something, felt proud, felt embarrassed, felt ashamed.”

The researchers then grouped the emotions in four categories: active, passive, positive and negative.

Secondary findings reveal women had more negative than positive emotions, and more passive than active emotions than men. Also, participants with higher income and education levels had significantly more positive emotions than those with lower income and education levels.

Source: University of Texas

Aging Is Tonic For Life’s Stressful Emotions

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Aging Is Tonic For Life’s Stressful Emotions. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/05/20/aging-is-tonic-for-lifes-stressful-emotions/2318.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.