Older adults are not only more emotionally stable than younger adults, they are better able to resist everyday desires, according to psychologists from Duke and Vanderbilt Universities.
The study included 123 participants ages 20 to 80. They were contacted via cell phone three times daily for 10 days as they went about their normal activities. On each contact, the participants were asked about their emotional state and whether they desired anything in that moment. Desires included food, alcohol, cigarettes, social media, shopping, talking to someone, sex, sleep or work.
Individuals with poorer moods were overall more likely to act on their desires. But age was a stronger predictor of the ability to resist temptation than emotional state. The older a participant, the more able they were to resist, reported Gregory Samanez-Larkin, Ph.D.
This may be because a person’s goals change with age, he added. Older individuals may attempt to maximize their well-being every day. “You want to feel good as much as possible.”
And in general, the older people were also “less volatile” in their emotions, he said.
“There is evidence here that emotional health and regulation improve with age,” concluded co-lead author Daisy Burr, a doctoral candidate.
Full findings were published Monday in the journal Emotion.