Chair: Michaela Riediger
This invited symposium brings together a group of researchers who investigate fluctuations in everyday affective processes over a wide age range from childhood into very old age to address two overarching research questions. A first question refers to age differences in everyday affective fluctuations and the factors that may explain these age differences. A second question refers to the implications of everyday affective functioning for longer-term changes in other domains of functioning (e.g., partnership or personality development). The employed methodological approaches are diverse and include ambulatory and experimental paradigms as well as micro- and macro-longitudinal designs. Neubauer et al. investigate whether the transition from elementary to secondary school is associated with a shift in the association between children’s daily self-perceptions of academic competence and their momentary affect. Riediger and Rauers present findings on short- and longer-term affective and interpersonal functions of everyday emotional sharing of stressful experiences in younger and older adult romantic couples. Kunzmann et al. address emotional reactivity and regulation in old and very old age and provide evidence for age-associated losses in both domains. Wrzus et al. demonstrate adult age differences in associations between repeated short-term affective responses to daily hassles and long-term changes in self-concepts of neuroticism. Brose and Schmiedek round off the symposium by discussing methodological and substantive challenges of investigating association of affect fluctuations on different time frames of development.
1. Neubauer et al.: The need for competence and its association with within-day change in affect: an ambulatory assessment study in the school context
2. Riediger & Rauers: Guess what happened to me: Short-term and longer-term functions of everyday emotional sharing in younger and older adults
3. Kunzmann et al.: Age Differences in Emotional Reactivity and Regulation: Loss or Continuity During Old and in Very Old Age?
4. Wrzus et al.: Age matters in linking momentary hassle responses to long-term changes in self-concepts of neuroticism
5. Brose & Schmiedek: Short-term affective reactivity predicts longer-term change in well-being? Methodological advancements and a challenge of prior findings
The need for competence and its association with within-day change in affect: an ambulatory assessment study in the school context
Andreas B. Neubauer, Judith Dirk, Andrea Schmidt, & Florian Schmiedek
The need for competence is described as a basic psychological need in Self-Determination Theory, which postulates that fulfillment of this need is central for psychological growth, integrity, and well-being for all humans. Prior research testing this prediction has mainly targeted an adult population, and comparatively less is known about the effects of competence (dis)satisfaction on momentary affective well-being in childhood. Because for children opportunities for (dis)satisfaction of this need mainly arise in the school context, we examined the association between perceived academic success and failure and momentary affect in children’s daily lives. We further investigated whether a critical change in the school context (the transition from elementary school to secondary school) might be associated with a shift in the importance of this need for children’s affective well-being. To that end, a sample of 194 children (90 children at the end of Grade 4, 104 children at the start of Grade 5) was investigated in an ambulatory assessment for four weeks. Current affect was assessed four times daily (in the morning, during school, in the afternoon, and in the evening), and perceived competence at school was assessed once at the end of each day. We examined change in positive and negative affect within the day using a multilevel extension of latent difference score models to investigate within-person fluctuations in true within-day change of affective well-being. Results showed weak within-person associations between perceived competence and change in affect during school: On days on which children reported higher competence satisfaction, their positive affect showed a steeper increase from before school to after school. On days with higher competence dissatisfaction, negative affect increased more strongly than on days with lower competence dissatisfaction. Some effects were descriptively larger in the older sample, but most of the differences between these two age groups were small and not statistically significant. This indicates that the impact of competence fulfillment on affective well-being does not systematically differ between children before and after transition to secondary school. The implications of these findings for (a) a life span perspective on the importance of need fulfillment for well-being and (b) research investigating the temporal dynamics of need fulfillment and well-being will be discussed.
Guess what happened to me: Short-term and longer-term functions of everyday emotional sharing in younger and older adults
Michaela Riediger and Antje Rauers | Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
The reported study investigated short- and longer-term implications of everyday emotional sharing for affective and interpersonal processes in younger and older adults. It has often been assumed that disclosing negative emotional experiences– or emotional sharing – is an effective emotion-regulatory strategy. Empirical evidence for this assumption, however, is scarce and typically stems from studies that investigated emotional sharing either retrospectively or in with unfamiliar confederates. In everyday life, however, emotional sharing typically occurs shortly after the event and with familiar persons. In addition, previous studies mostly investigated young adult samples, although it has been argued that everyday emotion communication may differ between individuals from different age groups. To address these concerns, we conducted a dyadic experience-sampling study with 50 younger and 50 older cohabitating, heterosexual couples. Both partners repeatedly used mobile phones to document whether they had recently experienced a hassle and whether they had told their partner about it. Both partners also repeatedly rated their current affect and how close they momentarily felt to their partner. Participants’ relationship closeness was again assessed about two years later. Older adults reported fewer everyday hassles and were more likely to disclose experience hassles to their partners. Irrespective of their age, participants reported lower emotional well-being, but higher feelings of closeness towards their partner when they had shared everyday hassles with them as compared to when they had not. In addition, the more younger and older participants had engaged in emotional sharing during the experience-sampling phase, the higher were both their own and their partners’ reports of relationship closeness two years later, controlling for initial relationship closeness. In conclusion, this study does not confirm previous speculations of less emotional sharing among long-term older couples. It further suggests that immediate mood-repair may not be the primary function of everyday emotional sharing. Instead, our findings are consistent with the idea that emotional sharing serves interpersonal functions of regulating relationship closeness in younger and older adults, both immediately and over time.
Age Differences in Emotional Reactivity and Regulation: Loss or Continuity During Old and in Very Old Age?
Ute Kunzmann (1), Oliver Schilling (2), Martin Katzorreck (1), Jelena Siebert (2), Anna Lücke (2), Konstantinos Mantantzis (3), & Denis Gerstorf (3)
(1) University of Leipzig
(2) University Heidelberg
(3) Humboldt University Berlin
Prominent lifespan theories have suggested that emotional competencies such as the ability to downregulate negative emotions remain stable or even increase well into old and very old age. Past evidence for continued growth is, however, mixed. In this project, we examined people in their mid- to late 60s and those in their mid- to late 80s in the laboratory and in their daily lives. In the lab, individuals were presented with four negative emotion evoking film clips under different emotion regulation instructions and their subjective feelings were assessed via adjective lists. Emotion regulation competence was operationalized performance-based as difference scores, representing the intensity of negative emotions during a trial with no regulation instruction versus the trials with regulation instruction. Using experience-sampling, the same individuals reported six times a day for a period of seven consecutive days their emotions. Initial analyses revealed that individuals in their mid-80s were less able to regulate their negative emotions on command in the laboratory. Likewise, those in their mid- to late 80s report experiencing considerably more negative affect in their lives (amounting to an average of more than 10 units on a scale from 0 to 100) as well as larger moment-to-moment affective fluctuations than those in their mid to late 60s. As the next steps, we will examine age group differences in stress reactivity and regulation and how well emotion regulation capacity as quantified performance-based and under standardized conditions in the lab predict emotional ups and downs as older adults move around their everyday routines. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of our findings.
Age matters in linking momentary hassle responses to long-term changes in self-concepts of neuroticism
Cornelia Wrzus | Ruprecht Karls University Heidelberg, Germany
Gloria Luong | Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
Gert G. Wagner | Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany, German Institute of Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Berlin, Germany and Berlin University of Technology (TUB), Berlin, Germany
Michaela Riediger | Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
Personality traits like neuroticism are relatively stable and therefore change often is observed only over several years. Yet, theoretical work and first empirical studies postulate that trait changes occur gradually over the years through the accumulation of, and responses to, brief daily experiences. The current study examines the hypothesis that repeated short-term affective responses to daily hassles (i.e., hassle reactivity) predict long-term increases in self-concepts of neuroticism. Furthermore, we hypothesized that associations between momentary hassle responses and long-term changes in neuroticism are less pronounced the older adults are because self-concepts are assumed to become more stable, less malleable with increasing age. In a measurement-burst design over six years, 581 participants (50% male) 14-86 years of age, completed up to three waves (T1 – T3) of Big Five trait questionnaires and experience-sampling assessments, with measurement intervals of about three years. During each experience-sampling period, participants reported their momentary negative affect and occurrences of hassles 6 times a day for at least 9 days over 3 weeks. Latent change models showed that increases in affective reactivity to daily hassles predicted corresponding increases in neuroticism, and this effect was less pronounced the older participants were. The results were specific for neuroticism, since hassle reactivity did not consistently predict changes in other Big Five traits. The findings help to inform theoretical models and interventions, which assume that repeated short-term states can influence gradual longer-term changes in traits.
Short-term affective reactivity predicts longer-term change in well-being? Methodological advancements and a challenge of prior findings
Annette Brose (1),(2)
Florian Schmiedek (3),(2)
(1) Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
(2) Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung, Berlin
(3) Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsforschung und Bildungsinformation (DIPF), Frankfurt a.M.
Different aspects of affective well-being vary on different timescales. Momentary mood varies on shorter time scales such as hours. Global well-being instead changes on longer time scales and is relatively stable across adulthood. In the last decade, theories and findings have emerged that these different aspects of well-being, short-term variability and long-term change, are related (e.g., short-term variability predicts change in well-being). Yet, a recent large scale investigation revealed that the predictive validity of short-term affective dynamics regarding different well-being outcomes diminishes once the mean of affective experiences on shorter time scales is taken into account (Dejonckheere et al., 2019).
This paper first summarizes these diverging literatures. Next, summarizing a related literature and using two empirical examples, it will be examined whether affective reactivity, a form of short-term variability that was not included in Dejonckheere et al., predicts change in well-being. With affective reactivity we refer to changes in affect that co-occur with external events such as stressors. We will demonstrate how the use of multilevel SEM improves more common modeling approaches on the relationship between short-term variability and long-term change. Next, we challenge previous findings on the predictive validity of affective reactivity by including the means into the analyses. Preliminary results seem to suggest that the unique predictive variance of affective reactivity on future well-being is very small once the mean across momentary assessments is taken into account. This finding at first sight seems to pose another threat to the idea that short-term variability is essentially meaningful for understanding long-term change. We will yet argue that the upsurge of research on short-term affective dynamics in the last decade was and remains important for developmental science.