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Bringing an Ecological Perspective to the Study of Aging and Recognition of Emotional Facial Expressions: Past, Current, and Future Methods

Abstract

Older adults perform worse on traditional tests of emotion recognition accuracy than do young adults. In this paper, we review descriptive research to date on age differences in emotion recognition from facial expressions, as well as the primary theoretical frameworks that have been offered to explain these patterns. We propose that this is an area of inquiry that would benefit from an ecological approach in which contextual elements are more explicitly considered and reflected in experimental methods. Use of dynamic displays and examination of specific cues to accuracy, for example, may reveal more nuanced age-related patterns and may suggest heretofore unexplored underlying mechanisms.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by NIA Grants R01AG026323 and T32AG000204.

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Correspondence to Derek M. Isaacowitz.

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Isaacowitz, D.M., Stanley, J.T. Bringing an Ecological Perspective to the Study of Aging and Recognition of Emotional Facial Expressions: Past, Current, and Future Methods. J Nonverbal Behav 35, 261 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-011-0113-6

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Keywords

  • Aging
  • Emotion perception
  • Ecological perspective