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Finding the good in the bad: age and event experience relate to the focus on positive aspects of a negative event

Finding the good in the bad: age and event experience relate to the focus on positive aspects of a negative event

Published in: Cognition and Emotion, Volume 32, Issue 2, 414-421

Abstract
“All lives contain negative events, but how we think about these events differs across individuals; negative events often include positive details that can be remembered alongside the negative, and the ability to maintain both representations may be beneficial. In a survey examining emotional responses to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the current study investigated how this ability shifts as a function of age and individual differences in initial experience of the event. Specifically, this study examined how emotional importance (i.e. self-reported emotional arousal and personal significance), involvement (i.e. self and friend/family involvement in the 2013 Boston Marathon and self-involvement in prior marathons), and self-reported surprise upon hearing about the event related to the tendency to report focusing on the negative and positive aspects of the bombings. Structural equation models revealed that while greater emotional importance and surprise were associated with a greater focus on negative elements, involvement and age were associated with increased consideration of positive aspects. Further, emotional importance was more strongly related to an increased focus on negative aspects for young adults and an increased focus on positive aspects for older adults, highlighting a tendency for older adults to enhance positive features of an otherwise highly negative event.”

Written by: Jaclyn H. Ford, Haley D. DiBiase, Elizabeth A. Kensinger
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2017.1301387

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