Sadness response strengthens with age | Science News

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Sadness response strengthens with age

In study, older people reacted more strongly to sad scenes than twentysomethings did

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1:41pm, July 29, 2010

As people grow older, sad films seem sadder.

In a recent study, people in their sixties felt sadder than people in their twenties did after viewing an emotionally distressing scene from a movie. This heightened emotional response to sorrow may reflect a greater compassion for other people and may strengthen social bonds, researchers propose.

The finding is an important contribution to emotion studies because it adds to a growing body of work showing that emotions don’t deteriorate, says Stanford University psychologist Laura Carstensen, who was not involved in the research. “One of the important findings of this is that the emotion system is in no way broken in old age,” she says.

To explore how feelings of sadness change with age, researchers led by Robert Levenson of the University of California, Berkeley brought 222 study participants into the laboratory to watch neutral, disgusting or sad movie clips. The volunteers made up three age

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