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Stability and Change in Affective Experience across the Adult Life-Span: Analyses with a National Sample from Germany

  • Ute Kunzmann
  • David Richter
  • Stefan C. Schmukle

Using cross-sectional and longitudinal data from a national sample spanning the adult lifespan, age differences in anger and sadness were explored. The cross-sectional and longitudinal findings consistently suggest that the frequency of anger increases during young adulthood, but then shows a steady decrease until old age. By contrast, the frequency of sadness remains stable over most of adulthood and begins to increase in old age. In addition, the effects of age on happiness were investigated; the cross-sectional evidence speaks for a steady decrease in happiness across age groups, but within-person decline in happiness was only evident in old age. Together the findings provide further evidence for multidirectional age differences in affective experience and suggest that the overall quality of affective experience may deteriorate in old age.

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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 584.

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Length: 32 p.
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp584
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  1. Fredda Blanchard-Fields & Andrew Mienaltowski & Renee Baldi Seay, 2007. "Age Differences in Everyday Problem-Solving Effectiveness: Older Adults Select More Effective Strategies for Interpersonal Problems," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 62(1), pages P61-P64.
  2. Albert Satorra & Peter Bentler, 2001. "A scaled difference chi-square test statistic for moment structure analysis," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 66(4), pages 507-514, December.
  3. Jule Specht & Boris Egloff & Stefan C. Schmukle, 2011. "Stability and Change of Personality across the Life Course: The Impact of Age and Major Life Events on Mean-Level and Rank-Order Stability of the Big Five," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 377, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  4. Kira S. Birditt & Karen L. Fingerman, 2005. "Do We Get Better at Picking Our Battles? Age Group Differences in Descriptions of Behavioral Reactions to Interpersonal Tensions," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 60(3), pages P121-P128.
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